Freedom Under Fire: Manipuri Women Refuse to Bury Sons; Attempt to Attack G.N. Saibaba

A round-up of news, both bad and good, on the rights front from India.

GN Saibaba, a professor of literature and a member of the Revolutionary Democratic Front, has been imprisoned without bail for over a year.

File photo of GN Saibaba at a student protest.

239 days on, Manipuri women refuse to bury dead sons

Nine Manipuri mothers have refused to bury their sons allegedly killed in police firing 239 days ago, The Hindu reported. The nine people (including a 11-year-old boy) were killed when they came out to protest against three contentious bills passed by the state assembly said to curb the right of tribal people. The bodies are lying in a morgue in Churachandpur district, which has become a centre of protests over the last eight months.

The women say they will not bury the bodies until the bills their sons were protesting are taken back – the Protection of Manipur People Bill, 2015; the Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms (Seventh Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Manipur Shops and Establishments (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015. Four of the women are currently in Delhi, trying to garner political support for their cause.

Attempt to attack DU professor Saibaba, students form human chain

There was an attempt to attack Delhi University teacher G.N. Saibaba on April 21 when he visited the Ram Lal Anand College (from where he is currently suspended from teaching) for the annual day celebration, Hindustan Times reported.

He wasn’t harmed as students formed a human chain around him for the duration of the programme. “They were raising slogans against me and were not letting me enter the college. But students were very protective and they stayed with me till the function got over,” said the English teacher.

Saibaba was arrested by the Maharashtra police for alleged Maoist links in 2014, and recently released on bail. After the arrest, he was suspended from college. He suffers 90% disability.

“Those who misbehaved with professor Saibaba were not college students,” said a letter written by students to the principal, asking him to look into the matter. They said those who misbehaved with Saibaba did not represent the opinion of the students and so should not be considered.

“Now that the college is considering reinstating Saibaba, ABVP is trying to create trouble. This is a bizarre thing that is happening on the campus. We really want Saibaba to come to the campus,” said a student who did not want to be named.

US human rights report slams India on encounter killings

According to a News18 report, the US State Department for Human Rights has slammed India for its record on encounter killing and has observed that judicial corruption is widespread in the country, in its 2015 report.

The report also mentioned the Malegaon case, with the allegation that the National Investigation Agency was “going soft” on Hindutva elements over the Malegaon blasts case.

The report said there were 555 “encounter killings,” by security forces and police between 2008 and 2013.

‘Pellet guns impaired eyesight of 39 in Kashmir’

According to a report in The Hindu, the eyesight of 39 protesters has been badly impaired due to the use of pellet guns to control mobs in the Kashmir Valley in the last 20 months. This number is based on figures released by Srinagar’s top hospitals on Friday. It is hard to know how many lost their eyesight completely since many patients do not come in for follow-ups, fearing arrest and police persecutions, authorities said.

Venue for Kanhaiya Kumar’s Mumbai event shifted

A day before Kanhaiya Kumar’s first address in Mumbai, the venue for the event was changed, allegedly after pressure from right-wing activists and the state government, The Times of India reported.

The event is being organised by a group of left-wing youth organisations. Organisers have claimed they have received threats pressurising them to cancel the event, a report in The Hindu says.

Do you know of any other incident we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected].

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