GN Saibaba, teacher, scholar, writer, and human rights activist, was sacked as assistant professor at Delhi University’s Ram Lal Anand College on March 31. Saibaba, who had been teaching at the college since 2003, was under suspension since 2014, when he was arrested on terrorism charges and was getting only half his salary.
Saibaba, who is 90 percent disabled and wheelchair-bound, was accused of being associated with Maoist rebels. In 2017, he was convicted under the draconian anti-terror law UAPA and sent to life in prison by a court in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. He has since been incarcerated in the Nagpur Central Jail.
“The services of GN Saibaba, Assistant Professor, Ram Lal Anand College, are terminated with effect from the afternoon of 31st March, 2021,” the college’s principal, Rakesh Gupta, informed the scholar’s family in a memorandum. “Three months’ salary has been paid in his Savings Bank Account.”
Speaking with Newslaundry, Saibaba's wife, Vasantha Kumari, described her husband’s tribulations as a “witch-hunt” by the Indian government which she alleged is trying to muzzle any voice that counters its political narrative. Her challenge to his conviction is pending in the Bombay High Court.
On September 3, 2020, Vasantha recalled, the college had sent her family a notice claiming that Saibaba’s “conduct was unbecoming of a teacher and that he wasn’t fulfilling his obligation as a teacher” and so “an appropriate action must be taken against him”. It asked Saibaba to respond within 21 days.
On November 11, Vasantha replied to the college pointing out that Saibaba was “not in a position to send a reply” because of his worsening health. Also, because of Covid, their visits to see Saibaba in jail were “extremely restricted”. In fact, in February 2021, Saibaba himself had contracted coronavirus.
The college, however, terminated the teacher without waiting for his reply.
Vasantha said her family was solely dependent on Saibaba’s pay to sustain and repay loans. “I am unemployed. I am trying to find a job as a typewriter to sustain my family,” she added.