DU Students Protesting SC Verdict on GN Saibaba Detained
Delhi University students being detained in a police van on the campus on Saturday. Image: Ronak Chhabra
New Delhi: Several Delhi University (DU) students were detained on the campus on Saturday before they could hold a public meeting outside the arts faculty in support of former DU professor GN Saibaba, whose acquittal by the Bombay High Court (HC) was suspended a few hours ago by the Supreme Court (SC) in a case of alleged Maoist links.
More than eight years after his arrest, wheelchair-bound Saibaba was acquitted by the HC on Friday due to the lack of a valid sanction for prosecution under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
On a non-working day on Saturday, while hearing a plea filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against the acquittal, the SC found fault with the HC for not entering the merits of the case and for finding a shortcut to decide.
A Bench of Justices MR Shah and Bela M Trivedi observed: “The High Court has not considered the merits. The HC discharged the accused only on the ground that the sanction was invalid and some material which was placed before the appropriate authority and sanction was granted on the same day.”
Subsequently, a public meeting called by DU students and teachers of DU to welcome Saibaba’s release turned into a protest against the apex court’s decision.
Several students were detained in a van by Delhi Police personnel assisted by university security guards. “No permission for holding a meeting here had been given. The teachers and students should have intimated the police before,” a policeman told Newsclick.
The teachers and students criticised the police for “entering” the campus and detaining those protesting peacefully.
“The Delhi Police entered the campus in an arbitrary and illegal manner and disrupted our meeting by detaining the participants. The police didn’t show us an order from the vice-chancellor not allowing us to hold a meeting,” Nandita Narain, a professor at St. Stephen’s College and former president of Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), told Newsclick.
Professor Saroj Giri, who teaches political science, told Newsclick that the “teachers and students were only gathered inside the campus. The police detained them from there”.
Members of student unions, including Students Federation of India and Disha, among others, raised slogans against the Delhi Police and the university administration. “We demand immediate release of professor GN Saibaba,” a protesting student told Newsclick.
Delhi-based Forum Against Corporatisation and Militarisation condemned in the “harshest tone” the SC’s verdict in a press release. “The reason for this state repression of GN Saibaba is not unknown and it is well understood that he was incarcerated to suppress the voices against Operation Green Hunt, which was a war waged by the Indian state on its own populace to facilitate unprecedented corporate loot of resources,” it alleged.
“The trial court’s argument that “they are anti-development” while convicting Saibaba and others and the argument of the Supreme Court that “brain is more dangerous” is reflective of the state-corporate nexus to silence every conscious mind that speaks against rampant corporate loot of people’s resources,” the forum alleged.
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