Call to Assemble against Continued Police Harassment of Dr. G.N. Saibaba
(Press Release: 8 January 2014)
Maharashtra Police to Interrogate Dr Saibaba on 9 January 2014 at 1pm at his residence
The DUTA expresses its concern and apprehension on being informed about the interrogation of Dr. GN Saibaba, a teacher in the English Department of Ram Lal Anand College of the University of Delhi, scheduled and then subsequently re-scheduled by Maharashtra Police for the 9th of January 2014 (Thursday) at 1 pm at his residence within the university premises. The interrogation was originally planned on the 7th of January but on the evening before the interrogation, the Investigating Officer (IO) canceled that appointment for unspecified reasons. One day later, we have been informed that the officer has now insisted on rescheduling this interrogation to the 9th of January.
We understand that he will be questioned as part of an on-going enquiry by the Maharashtra Police since September 2013. This interrogation follows a raid conducted by a team comprising the Maharashtra and Delhi police on the 12th of September 2013. This raid was conducted on the basis of a misleading search warrant that stated the ‘recovery of stolen propety’. Neither the nature of the stolen property nor the case number were mentioned in the search warrant. The objects confiscated in the raid were clearly the personal property of Dr. Saibaba and taken in unsealed condition leaving it open to the possibility of tampering with the material. Since the raid, which was conducted in contravention with the due process of enquiry, Dr. Saibaba has faced continuous harassment in the form of imminent threat of arrest as well as a full-fledged smear campaign in the media conducted by the police. This smear campaign has repeatedly attempted to portray Dr. Saibaba as someone who has committed offences against the state by speaking for the oppressed and marginalised across the country.
The raid was followed by a summons sent by the Maharashtra police to Dr. Saibaba to appear for interrogation ‘anywhere outside Delhi’ or in Nagpur as part of the enquiry. After an appeal was sent to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to look into the raid and the summons, the NHRC sent notices to the Commissioner of Police, Delhi and DGP of Maharashtra to answer for asking a physically challenged person to present himself in this manner. The NHRC clearly cited the law that states that persons with disabilities need not present themselves anywhere outside their residence.
In light of these police claims and charges, it is clear that Dr. Saibaba is in no way involved with the case under enquiry. This fact is of serious concern for DUTA. A member of the university community has been facing continuous harassment by the police over four months. This repeated rescheduling of the interrogation and disregard for the commitments of a teacher in this university is intended to put pressure on Dr. Saibaba and continue the harassment of his family. This is indicative of the targeting of democratic voices and is a clear violation of human rights of the professor concerned. It reflects the deep erosion of civil liberties enshrined in our Constitution.
The DUTA expresses anguish at the continuous harassment of Dr. Saibaba and extends its fullest support to him and his family in this time as well as in his struggle for speaking for the most oppressed and marginalized people. Since he has expressed full cooperation with the investigation and agreed to clear all doubts and misgivings that the investigating officers may have, the DUTA demands that the Maharashtra police will extend all courtesies to a law abiding professor of this university and not persist in harassing him. Furthermore, the DUTA hopes that the police will honour their word, keep to their commitments and consider the busy academic schedule of Dr. Saibaba.
The DUTA appeals to all the teachers to be present in large numbers at Dr. Saibaba’s residence, Warden’s Flat, Gwyer Hall, University Road, Delhi University to express our support and solidarity and keep a vigil on any possible intimidation, harassment and arbitrary action by the Maharashtra and Delhi police with regards to Dr. Saibaba, his wife and teenage daughter. We will gather at the Warden’s Flat, Gwyer Hall from 12 noon onwards on Thursday, 9th January 2014.