Mukundan C Menon Award: Wife of 2019 laureate Prof.GN Saibaba receives award on his behalf.
15 March 2020
Imprisoned Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba has received the 2019 Mukundan C Menon award for human rights instituted by NCHRO. His wife Vasantha Kumari, accepted the 2019 Mukundan C Menon award on 15 March 2020 on behalf of her jailed husband at a ceremony held in Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi.
The Delhi University professor who is languishing in Nagpur jail for alleged relationship with Revolutionary Democratic Front in Andhra Pradesh. The members of the jury who picked up Prof.GN Saibaba are of the opinion that he has been working for the protection of Adivasis and the poor in different parts of the country and has been using his pen to highlight the gross rights violation taking place in many mineral- rich areas of the country.
Though a paraplegic who could not move without assistance he has never wavered from his mission in spite of great physical disabilities. Over the course of his career, Prof. GN Saibaba was harassed and tortured several times by the authorities.
The award is instituted by NCHRO in memory of late Mr.Mukundan C Menon, the founding General Secretary to recognize individuals, institutes or organizations involved in the protection of human rights and environment. The award included a plaque, the citation and a cash prize of Rs. 25,000/-.
The evening began with a welcome message from the NCHRO Exco Member, Adv Ansar Indori. This was followed by speeches from prominent Human Rights activists, Ravi Nair, director of South Asia Human Rights Documents Center(SAHRC), Professor Hany Babu of Delhi University, NCHRO National Secretary, Advocate Mohammad Yusuff, Professor Vikas Kumar and Former President of Delhi University Teachers Association, Nandita Narayan.
Speaking at the ceremony, Delhi University Professor, Hany Babu recalled that Prof GN Saibaba, with his activism, managed to give a voice to the weakest in the society and his contribution is remarkable for the development of the poor tribals. Saibaba has been targeted because, he worked tirelessly for the upliftment of poor tribals. His incarceration is part of a concerted effort to repress individuals, organizations and communities vocal against the anti-people policies.
Ravi Nair, director of South Asia Human Rights Documents Center(SAHRC), noted that, all the signs of early fascism are visible in India today. A deeply worrying fact is that the ultranationalists have penetrated every institutions of the Indian state who openly advocate communalism, nationalism and violence. The nature of the fascist techniques of gaining power, by means of propaganda, violence, threats, intimidation all are visible. Being Anti-Fascist is now officially branded as Anti-National.
Speaking at the event, NCHRO National Secretary, Muhammad Yusuff said: I have been struck by the passion and determination of people who have risked everything to struggle against oppression and discrimination and affirm fundamental rights and freedoms. He highlighted the life of Mukundan C Menon and explained the history of the award instituted by NCHRO.
On this occasion, Former President of Delhi University Teachers Association, Nandita Narayan said that in today’s time the most needed is Professor Saibaba who has been a vocal voice against the anti-people policies of the government. Addressing the program, Professor Vikas Kumar said that the rights given to citizens in democracy are being violated by the government itself, we are downward spiral in terms of democracy and human rights for many years now.
Demanded to take immediate corrective action in the case of Prof.Saibaba. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Speaking in the award ceremony, Prof Saibab’s wife Vasantha Kumari and daughter Manjeera gave a glimpse of the work and perspective of the incarcerated Professor, the man with strong sense of equality, who worked tirelessly to defend our freedoms and rights.
Prof. Saibaba’s daughter Manjeera read out his message:-
I appeal to all human rights defenders right now to work with more energy to protect the rights of the people. It should be our responsibility to strive for justice at this juncture.
I think democratic rights are the highest form of rights in our age. The human rights which are not just limited to the mere existence of life but they exist to fulfill all human aspirations. Life means the highest order of freedom to thrive and sustain. Even civil rights are restricted today. The democratic rights meet the highest requirement of human consciousness and life aspiration and include all forms of rights. Currently the need rises to defend these rights, and we must ensure the sustenance of the future generation.
The future generation cannot be formed from the blood of the exploited. We have the duty as functions citizens and individuals of the earth to spread the message of human liberty and take forward the teachings of humanity. The defenders of the rights have greater responsibility at this particular juncture of crisis than ever before in the face of growing tyranny. No doubt first target of tyrannical forces are defenders of human rights. They are the greatest threat, they are the greatest destabilizing force.
This is the time of necessity of work of human rights defenders and I’m sad that currently I am in shackles, unable to work and defend those in crisis. Every day I read the newspaper and my heart bleeds thinking I cannot help those who are in need right now. I appeal to all human rights defenders right now to work with more energy to protect the rights of the people.
It should be our responsibility to strive for justice at this juncture. In these regressive dark days, we need to look forward and not lose hope. As an Irish socialist Raymond Williams once said, “to be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing.” I’m glad to have the honor of being in this position right now and to see that so many people right now who are working and fighting to defend the rights of the masses, that is including mine.”
Along with the presentation of the Awards, the evening included release of two Books “Facts do not Lie” and ‘Kanoon ki Buniyadi Jaankari’ (Information about the Law), followed by a cultural programme by Sangvari group.
During the award ceremony, NCHRO fact-finding mission releases its full report on recent communal riots in Delhi.
The program was moderated by Vidya, NCHRO Exco member. The gathering celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others.