Nagpur: Former DU Professor Saibaba Susceptible to COVID-19 in Jail, Says Family

Saibaba informed his family that there has been an "uncontrolled outbreak" of Covid-19 in Nagpur Central Prison. Given the history of his weak immunity and other underlying health conditions, he is more vulnerable to the disease.

New Delhi: Former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba, who is lodged in Nagpur Central Jail for alleged Maoist links, has expressed fear that he might contract coronavirus in prison as the disease “has reached very close” to him.

Saibaba’s family appealed to the centre and the Maharashtra government to immediately release him on bail or parole so that he is provided appropriate medical treatment either in Hyderabad or Delhi where his family members live.

The prison authorities gave special permission to 53-year-old Saibaba to explain his condition to his lawyer and family.

In his most recent call to his family and advocate, he informed them that there has been an “uncontrolled outbreak” of Covid-19 in Nagpur Central Prison, a member of his family mentioned.

Despite the proactive preventive measures taken by the jail administration, Covid-19 has infected hundreds of prisoners including convicts, undertrials and even the jail guards, they said.

“The infection is widespread and on a large scale, where barrack after barrack is being infected. On July 8, all 20 prisoners of Anda cell have undergone Covid-19 swab tests and one prisoner was found positive,” his family said.

“The disease has reached very close to me”, Saibaba told his family. It was only a “matter of time” that it would reach his cell, they said.

His family mentioned that because of his weak health and a history of diseases, Saibaba is more susceptible to the outbreak. His immunity is low and damaged, they said. They further added that he informed them that even the officers who used to visit the barracks contracted the virus.

There is no special care or treatment in order to combat the disease, Saibaba’s family said. His family further complained that the officials have not provided him medical attention for his other serious health ailments.

“Saibaba is an easy target for the virus, and once infected, he cannot recover and survive on his own from Covid,” his family said.

They said that the jail has not assigned him ‘helpers’ to take care of his daily needs and alleged that he was being forced to live in unhygienic conditions.

“This is a dire case as once he tests positive, he will be either confined to his cell with no helpers and he will not be allowed to shift to the family for healthcare. This is a certain death sentence for him, as he is more sensitive to infections in his current state,” they said.

In March 2017, a sessions court in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district convicted and sentenced Saibaba and four others, including a journalist and a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, for alleged Maoist links and their involvement in activities amounting to waging-war against the country.

The court held Saibaba and others guilty under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Following the conviction, Saibaba was lodged at the Nagpur prison.