The Gadchiroli Sessions Court also handed out 10-year jail term to their sixth accomplice.
The wheelchair-bound English teacher of Ram Lal Anand College in Delhi, Saibaba, 47, with 90 percent disability, was arrested in May 2014 from his home in the capital by Maharashtra Police’s Anti-Naxal Operations (ANO) unit.
The court noted that the accused had conspired “to create violence, cause public disorder and spread disaffection towards the central government and the state government”.
“In pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy, the accused were found in possession of printed Naxal literature” that was to be circulated “amongst the members of banned CPI-Maoist and its frontal organisation (Revolutionary Democratic Front) RDF and other persons for creating violence and causing public disorder”.
Judge S.S. Shinde convicted Saibaba under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and found him and his associates guilty of conspiring and being a member of the terrorist outfit, as well as of offences relating to support given to the Left extremism rebels.
Saibaba was in April last year granted bail by the Supreme Court and exempted from personal appearance on the grounds of his deteriorating health.
Besides the DU teacher, the court also sentenced to life Jawaharlal Nehru University student Hem Mishra, former journalist Prashant Rahi, Mahesh Tirki, and Pandu Narote. Vijay Tirki will serve a 10-year term.
Saibaba came under police scanner after the JNU student confessed to the police that he was acting as a courier between the professor and Maoist leaders, including Puppalla Laxman Rao alias Ganapathy.
The prosecution contended that Mishra, Tirki and Narote went into the deep forests of Gadchiroli in Maharashtra to meet Narmada Akka, a top Maoist commander, who handed over Rs 500,000 to be delivered to Saibaba to propagate Maoist ideology in the urban setting.
Public Prosecutor Prashant Satgianathan presented 23 witnesses and 41 articles, including data retrieved from hard disks found at Saibaba’s residence.
Satgianathan said in 2012, Saibaba and others had participated in a conference of the RDF that is outlawed in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.
In his speech as deputy joint secretary, Saibaba had said that Maoism was the only route and denounced the democratic system.
The videos of his speeches were played in the court and the prosecution said Saibaba was in contact with Maoist groups in neighbouring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Saibaba’s wife expressed shock over the court verdict and accused the central government of following an RSS agenda in pressurising the judiciary for a favourable outcome.
“This judgement is shocking. In the history of Maharashtra, this is the first case in which all the persons chargesheeted were convicted in all the sections with life imprisonment,” Vasanta Kumari said in a statement.
She said she would fight for her husband’s freedom in the higher courts and urged the civil society members to condemn the “undemocratic character of the government”.
The RSS’ student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) welcomed the court verdict sentencing to life imprisonment Saibaba who spread Maoism in urban areas.
“Saibaba was instrumental in spreading the ideology of Mao in urban areas. It has been proven by the court that he was in touch with the Maoists hiding in jungles, and used to work for them from the city. He worked as a mediator for them on a national and international level both,” ABVP said in a statement.