Following are the Statements issued by University Teachers and Teachers’ Association in Solidarity of Dr. G N Sainbaba, an assistant professor of English at Ramlal Anand College, DU, and whose house was raided and ransacked by the police on the false pretext of attempting to recover ‘stolen property’. –Editor
I. Statement by Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA)’s President
The unprovoked violence unleashed by the Delhi Police on students and teachers of the Delhi University on the eve of the DUSU Elections has drawn attention to the condemnable disregard of human and democratic rights in the university campus. While students and teachers had gathered outside the VC’s official residence today to protest against the administration’s indifference and the police violence inflicted on students participating in an indefinite hunger strike last night, the Delhi Police ACP Anil Kumar ordered an assault on students and teachers alike. Women teachers were physically assaulted and molested by male constables. A student was picked up for raising slogans against the Vice Chancellor and dragged inside a police jeep which drove him away to an undisclosed location for detention.
The Delhi Police had been acting as the Vice Chancellor’s personal bouncers throughout the day. The Vice Chancellor, on the other hand, did not even extend the basic courtesy to meet the students sitting on hunger strike (for 11 days now) or have any dialogue with the protesting teachers and students. There is reason to believe that these atrocities have been carried out at the VC’s behest. In his tenure, Delhi University has erupted in sporadic incidents of violence against teachers and students and the democratic right to protest against the frequently unreasonable stands of the administration has been repeatedly crushed. The DUTA notes that a situation of virtual Emergency prevails in the University campus today, and squarely holds the VC’s high-handedness responsible for this mess.
In another shocking incident, a teacher and renowned civil rights activist, Dr. G N Saibaba has been placed under house arrest at his residence in the Delhi University campus by the Maharashtra Police on the flimsiest grounds. Alleging that his residence was being used to house stolen property, the police insisted on conducting a raid in the absence of his lawyer or any colleague. Despite his 90% disability (Dr. Saibaba suffers from childhood polio), the police chose to severe all his communication links and confiscated his mobile phone, laptop, pen drives and computer hard disk. The police harassed him and his family relentlessly for hours and was not able to justify the raid eventually. The DUTA is amazed that the University has allowed the police to disregard all norms and trample upon personal rights of an individual. The DUTA condemns the University administration for entirely abdicating its responsibility to secure the safety of its teachers and students. The DUTA strongly reiterates its demand for the immediate removal of the Vice Chancellor who has continued to intimidate all stakeholders into silent submission over his skewed agenda and misgovernance.
II. Statement by Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association (JTSA)
On 12 September, 2013 in a joint operation led by the National Investigative Agency (NIA), Special Cell, Delhi Police, Aheri Police Station, Gadchiroli, Maharashtra and Maurice Nagar Police Station, Delhi the house of G. N. Saibaba, a noted civil rights activist and assistant professor of English at Ramlal Anand College, University of Delhi, was raided. Located on the main campus of the University of Delhi, the house was ransacked by the police on the false pretext of attempting to recover “stolen property” under Sections 93, 94 of the Cr PC. Saibaba and his partner and daughter were subjected to violent threats and criminal intimidation by the raiding team after he enquired about the search warrant – which was reluctantly produced later – and expressed his right to have the search conducted in the presence of his lawyer. Not only that, his right to contact the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) was completely disregarded too.
The raiding team, in gross violation of individual liberties and rights, confined the three member family for hours and locked the house from inside. The raiding army, after three and a half hours of calculated devastation, finally took away Saibaba’s computer, hard discs, pen-drives, mobile phones, SIM cards, books, pamphlets, and so forth.
The violence inflicted upon Saibaba and his family shows yet again the high-handedness of the state and its police force and its power to treat human rights activists and other such citizens in such brazen manner.
Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association and other members of the teaching community strongly condemn the police raid and stand in solidarity with G. N. Saibaba.
For Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA):
Manisha Sethi, Ahmed Sohaib, Sanghamitra Misra, Tanweer Fazal, Nabanipa Bhattacharjee, Adil Mehdi, Ghazi Shahnawaz , M. S. Bhat, Farah Farooqi, Ambarien al Qadar and others
Abhijit Kundu, University of Delhi
Mona Das, University of Delhi
III. Statement by Delhi University Teachers
We, the undersigned teachers of Delhi University, wish to express our deep sense of shock and outrage at the treatment meted out by the police to our colleague, Dr. G N Saibaba, Asst. Prof. in English at Ram Lal Anand College. At about 3.00 PM today, a large 50 member team including members of the Maharashtra Police Force, led by Shashi Kumar (Additional SP, Gadchiroli), and Suhas P Bawache (investigating officer. Aheri Police station, Gadchiroli) accompanied by Delhi Police special cell officers and Maurice Nagar police thana police officers, raided the residence of Dr. Saibaba, on the grounds that his residence “is used as a place for the deposit of stolen property”. Dr. Saibaba’s residence is in the University premises, and as such, the university administration is clearly complicit in granting permission for the raid. During the entire course of this completely baseless investigation, Dr. Saibaba and his family, including his minor fifteen year-old daughter, were kept in custody in his house and prevented from either making or receiving calls, or meeting anyone who sought to meet them. When a group of us reached Dr. Saibaba’s residence and requested the police to at least let us see the daughter, they categorically refused, claiming that it would compromise the investigation. It was only after much persuasion that they finally produced the minor girl, who reported that she had been terrified by the police into keeping quiet. The police even refused to allow our request to keep the daughter with us, since she was obviously scared of them, and immediately tried to return her forcibly into the house. They eventually left, after confiscating a large number of files, pen-drives, a laptop, and all the three mobile phones belonging to the family, none of which items were “stolen property”. Despite repeated requests by many of us to at least return the daughter’s phone, since it was dangerous to leave a physically disabled person with no means of communication (Dr. Saibaba suffers from 90% disability), the police refused to do so. Dr. Saibaba was not allowed to call his lawyer, or even any of his colleagues to ensure that the “investigation” would be a fair and transparent one.
We strongly object to such an uncondonable invasion of privacy, and violation of basic rights. We are deeply concerned that a pattern of targeting university students and teachers is emerging, whereby the police forces of the country are clamping down on any attempt to question or protest against government policies, especially in the supposedly safe spaces of the university, in the name of protecting national security. The charge of harbouring “stolen property” is particularly outrageous, baseless and ridiculous. We condemn the complicity and silence of the university administration in this action, and demand that they immediately assure Dr. Saibaba and his family that there will not be a repeat of such an incident.
Dr. P. K. Vijayan, Hindu College, DU
Dr. Saroj Giri, Dept. of Political Science, DU
Dr. Karen Gabriel, St. Stephen’s College, DU
Dr. Hany Babu, Dept. of English, DU
Dr. Naveen Gaur, Dyal Singh College, DU
Mr. N. Sachin, Dyal Singh Colege, DU
Dr. Anirban Kar, Dept. of Economics, DSE
Dr. Vikas Gupta, Dept. of History, DU
Ms. Nandita Narain, St. Stephen’s College, DU and President, DUTA
Dr. Shashwati Majumdar, Dept. of Germanic and Romance Studies, DU
Dr. Vijaya Venkatraman, Dept. of Germanic and Romance Studies, DU
Mr. Saikat Ghosh, Khalsa College, DU
Dr. Nandini Dutta, Miranda House, DU
Dr. Jenny Rowena, Miranda House, DU
IV. Press Note circulated in the Press Conference held on 14/09/2013 at Prof. GN Saibaba residence, DU Campus
On Thursday, 12 September 2013, a 50 strong police contingent drawn from the Maharashtra Police Force, the Delhi Police Special Cell and the Maurice Nagar police thana, raided the residence of Dr. Saibaba, an Asst. Prof. in English at Ram Lal Anand College. They brought computer technicians with them. Dr. Saibaba, his wife and their minor 15-year old daughter were detained for about four hours from 3.00 PM onward for an investigation into the use of his residence “as a place for the deposit of stolen property”. Immediately, the iron main gate of the house and the house door itself were locked from within and physically barred by police personnel, and phones of all including the driver were seized. The driver’s phone was destroyed, and all other phones were seized. At the end of the search, two phones were returned after the teachers in DU protested about leaving the family with no means of communication. Dr. Saibaba was not allowed to contact his lawyer, or his colleagues to ensure that the “investigation” would be a fair and transparent one. Teachers who reached the spot volunteered to be observers. But they were not allowed into the premises. During the course of this wholly baseless investigation, the entire family was kept captive –sometimes individually – prevented from making or receiving calls, or meeting anyone who sought to meet them. The police locked themselves into various rooms of the house for long periods of time. Two terrified local barbers were picked up by the police and brought in as “neutral observers” for some part of the raid. They were also coerced into signing on the seizure sheet as witnesses. The police left sometime after some DU teachers arrived, began questioning the police and informing the media about the incident. After much persistence, the teachers managed to get the terrified child produced. The police left after confiscated a large number of college documents, pen-drives, a laptop, a tablet microchip, mobile phones (including the minor daughter’s phone), debit and credit cards, and bank passbooks, none of which items were “stolen property”.
A day later, the Gadchiroli police claimed the following incriminating evidence against Saibaba to some press persons: (1) that they have extracted a confession from the JNU student Hem Mishra stating that a microchip found in his possession was given to him by Dr. Saibaba; (2) that they have records of internet “chat sessions” between Dr. Saibaba and several top Maoist leaders; (3) that Dr. Saibaba was named in Mr. Kobad Ghandy’s “confession” as being a Maoist leader; (4) that Dr. Saibaba stands incriminated by virtue of being General Secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), which they alleged is a front for the CPI (Maoist). It appears that the police will use these, among other grounds, to frame charges against Dr. Saibaba, and arrest him as soon as possible. It may be noted here that: (a) Mr. Kobad Ghandy’s alleged “confession” was set aside by the courts as being fabricated by the AP police and inadmissible; (b) without dwelling on the police’s ludicrous imagination of the senior Maoist party leadership participating in “internet chat groups”, it may be noted that, by the police’s own account, these chat sessions are between persons named “Prakash” and “Chetan”, and the alleged “Maoist top leadership”; (c) there is no mention of Dr. Saibaba by name; (d) Dr. Saibaba has also categorically denied any knowledge of any microchip, or indeed of any contact on this matter with Hem Mishra; (e) The charge of harbouring “stolen property” is particularly outrageous, baseless and despicable.
The University community is deeply concerned that a pattern of targeting, thrashing, molesting and otherwise intimidating and bullying university students and teachers, including persons with disabilities (PwDs) has developed. It is a matter of grave concern that an employee of the university and a wheelchair-bound person with 90% disability has been subject to this manner of intimidation, invasion of privacy, and violation of civil and human rights.
The DU administration’s complicity in the hefty police presence on Campus per se, and in the increasingly frequent incidents of police brutality against students and teachers on campus, is now clear, as the police may enter the campus only with the knowledge and explicit permission of the University administration. This administration’s complicity stems from a gross and inexcusable failure on the part of the Vice Chancellor and his team to understand either the university as a space, or the task that they have taken upon themselves. Rather than fostering the spirit and culture of critical inquiry and free speech, both of which fundamentally characterize the University as a space, the VC and his team have turned the University into a shameful, rankly sycophantic, anti-intellectual hub for police brutality, impunity, and the unapologetic violation of all human rights and norms of decency.
While the police forces of the country are now best known for their track record of human rights violations and for vicious repression of any form of dissent in the name of national security, it is unforgivable that the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University, who took upon himself the responsibility of protecting the intellectual and physical space of the University from abuse, is himself the architect of its destruction.
At the Press Conference held in this regard on Saturday, 14 September 2013, many of these issues were addressed. Dr. Karen Gabriel, a professor of English in St. Stephen’s College and who conducted the Conference, began the proceedings by giving a broad account of the incident as well of the implications and the larger context in which it needs to be understood. Dr. Saibaba gave a detailed account of the traumatic experience of the search conducted forcibly by the police and intelligence forces. Dr. Vijay Singh, a retired professor of History in DU, stressed on the complicity of the University administration in the search, while Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, retired professor in Political Science of DU, noted that the event itself was a clear indication that Operation Green Hunt was now taking place in the university and in urban areas as well. Dr. Saroj Giri, a professor of Political Science in DU, pointed out that membership of an organization – banned or not – cannot in itself become the grounds on which to incriminate and arrest individuals, and that the media has a very important and proactive role to play in challenging such violations of basic rights. Ms. Nandita Narain, newly elected President of the DUTA, noted that the DUTA will not brook such violations of democratic rights, and demanded that the Vice Chancellor step down, if he is unable to maintain the sanctity of democracy in the University. Prof. Amit Bhaduri, Professor Emeritus of CESP, JNU, remarked that this was not a matter of concern for the University alone, but of civil society at large, since the threat to democracy was the same everywhere. Ms. Arundhati Roy commented on how this was a blatant attempt to criminalise even innocuous actions like internet chats that is part of a pattern of state action that was observed in the case of Binayak Sen as well. Harish Dhawan, PUDR, offered instances from his recent fact-finding work in Gadchiroli and observed that the UAPA is the most dangerous threat facing the people of the country today. In response to a query from the media regarding the reasons for the raid Saibaba, Arundhati Roy, SAR Geelani, Manoranjan Mohanty and Karen Gabriel pointed out that it is well established that the police mislead the judiciary and do whatever they think they need to when the decide to incriminate a citizen.
We condemn the attempts by the police to fabricate a specious case against Dr. Saibaba in the strongest terms. We condemn the complicity of the University authorities in this outrage. No attempt should be made to arrest him. His fundamental rights must be upheld and safeguarded. We demand that the University administration prevent any further compromise of the university space in general, and the harassment of this unfortunate family in particular.
Dr Karen Gabriel
Dr Anirban Kar
Dr Hany Babu
Dr Vijay Singh
Dr Nandini Dutta
Dr P K Vijayan
Dr Jenny Rowena
Dr Saroj Giri
Dr Biswajit Mohanty