Disabled Delhi University’s Ram Lal Anand College professor GN Saibaba and other four were awarded life sentence for links to the banned naxalite group CPI (Maoists) on Tuesday.
The wheel-chair bound professor was arrested in May 2014 but he was on bail since June last year on the ground of his sickness. It is suspected he was the mastermind of many attacks on police and influenced the youth to fight against the country’s democratic system.
The English professor founded the All India People’s Representation Forum (AIPRF) and was its secretary from 1994 to 1996. In that time, he was arrested several times. In 2014 on May 9, Maharashtra police arrested him for running a Maoist front and had links with ultra-right rebels in Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.
The Mumbai High Court granted him bail in July 2015 for three months for his treatment. He was again sent back to the prison on 25th December, 2015.
All the five accused were sentenced under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The principal district and sessions judge Suryakant Shinde said, “Though he is physically handicapped, he is mentally fit. He is a think-tank and leader of banned political organisation CPI (Maoist) and its frontal organisation RDF.”
The judge maintained, “Several lives were lost from 2009 due to your activities and there was a huge loss of public property. The imprisonment for life is not a sufficient punishment for the accused, but the hands of the court are tied with the mandate of Section 18 and 20 of UAPA. It’s a fit case to award life imprisonment to all the accused, except one (Vijay Tirki).”
The cops said Saibaba was active in connecting like-minded organisations abroad with India-based groups. He was active from Abujmadh jungles to countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka.
His wife Vasanta issued a statement, “Our advocates will move high court soon. This judgment is shocking. In the history of Maharashtra, this is the first case in which all the persons, who have been chargesheeted, are convicted in all sections with life imprisonment. No evidence has been proved by the prosecution… electronic evidence was not sealed.”
This is the first case in Maharashtra where convictions were made based on electronic evidence.
The judge said, “For that, all accused and members of banned organisations, CPI (Maoist) and its frontal organisation, Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), are responsible. About 78% of the district consists of forest which offers good shelter to the outlaws. Life, in general, is paralysed and no industrial and other developments take place due to fear of Naxalites and their violent activities. The government declared entire district as Naxalite-affected on August 6, 2002.”
Police recovered incriminating data from Saibaba’s computer hard disk which revealed their role in Maoist activities.
Special public prosecutor Prashant Sathianathan earlier demanded life imprisonment for all the accused. He did not support any leniency to Saibaba for his disability. Saibaba used to go to abroad and spread Maoist ideology and recruit youths. He communicated under the pseudonym ‘Prakash’ in his emails and letters for his motives.