New Delhi: Former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba’s mother died on Saturday – four days after the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court denied bail to the ailing activist who has been jailed for alleged Maoist links.
Saibaba had filed the plea seeking bail for 45 days on medical grounds as well as to meet his mother, who was suffering from cancer, in Hyderabad.
The academic’s plea for bail on medical grounds point out how his weak health along with co-morbidities made him vulnerable to catching COVID-19 in jail.
The Indian Express reported that Saibaba’s wife, Vasantha, stated that her mother-in-law Gokarakonda Suryavathi passed away on Saturday afternoon. She was also not with her due to flying restrictions.
“Her health was progressively getting worse. I feel extremely saddened by the loss of this kind and caring woman and even deeply disappointed in myself that I could not fulfil her final wish,” Vasantha said in a statement.
Saibaba’s lawyer Akash Sorde tried to make last-minute attempts on Friday to arrange a video conference between his client and 74-year-old Suryavathi. The doctors had already declared that Suryavathi had less than 48 hours to survive.
“We tried to contact Anupkumar Kumre, the Superintendent of the Nagpur Central Prison, where Saibaba is lodged, so that his mother could see him as her last wish. But there was no response to the calls,” Sorde told IE. The newspaper reported that efforts were made to contact Kumre, but he didn’t respond to calls or messages.
Saibaba was convicted under the UAPA of “links with Maoists and indulging in activities amounting to waging a war against the country” in March 2017 by a Gadchiroli court and sentenced to life. He has challenged the order in the Bombay high court.
“Her son could not see her for the past four years since his incarceration and now has to bid her abrupt farewell. She tested negative for Covid and held on for longer than the doctors predicted in the end, braving through the pain,” said Vasantha, through a written statement.
Saibaba’s lawyer Nihal Singh Rathod had pointed out during the arguments at the high court that it was would not be right to deny the mother the right to see her son when on death bed.
The Special Public Prosecutor Prashant Sathanathan opposed the bail on grounds that Saibaba’s brother with the mother. Also, since the mother was in a containment zone in Hyderabad, he claimed that Saibaba himself could contract the disease.
Saibaba’s lawyer Nihal Singh Rathod had also pointed out that Saibaba, who is wheelchair bound, was not getting the physiotherapy he needed nor the two assistants required to move about.
However, Sathanathan claimed that Saibaba has two attendants round-the-clock and a medical officer to attend to him and provide proper treatment.
The division bench of Justices A.S. Chandurkar and Amit Borkar said it was “not inclined to grant bail”, accepting that once rejected, Saibaba’s appeal on health grounds could not be permitted again.