An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. - Mahatma Gandhi
By the time I write something in this blog about a current affair, it becomes ancient history. So I decided to simply outline the facts and the comparisons which I've made regarding the Dr. Binayak Sen case.
[From the Wikipedia:]
Binayak Sen is an Indian pediatrician, public health specialist and activist. He is the national Vice-President of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).
On 14 May 2007, Sen was arrested in Bilaspur on the charges of acting as a courier between jailed Naxalite leader Narayan Sanyal and businessman Piyush Guha, also accused of having links with Naxalites. Sen met 70-year-old Sanyal 33 times in Raipur jail, though all the visits were with prior police permission. The Chhattisgarh police also reportedly relied on certain electronic documents to establish a link between Sen and Naxalites.In other words, he was both a physician who offered free health services at one time and also participated in fighting for human rights in India for various sectors of people, especially the tribals of Chhattisgarh, which has lead him to a lot of trouble with the Government... And the whole world [including the Amnesty International], except the Government of India, and the Judiciary, [of course] believes the charges to be false and against Dr. Sen's rights.
These are the aspects which... what's the exact word for it? Ah.. yes, 'infuriate'! These are the aspects which infuriate me when I think about the case:
Remember SPS Rathore? After 19 years, 40 adjournments, and more than 400 hearings, the court finally pronounced Rathore guilty under Section 354 IPC (molestation) and sentenced him to six months imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000.On 11 November 2010, the Supreme Court granted bail to him. Well, Dr. Sen was sentenced to a life term imprisonment and wasn't granted bail for over 2 years.
From 26 May to 4 June, 2007, the supporters of Binayak Sen organized a series of rallies in several cities including Raipur, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, London, Boston and New York, to protest against his arrest. Amnesty International, which saw the arrest as harassment of a human rights activist, declared his detention in breach of international law. It issued a call to the Government of Chhattisgarh to immediately release Sen, unless he could be charged with a cognizable offence. On 29 April 2008, Human Rights Watch in New York issued a public statement regarding the trial of Sen due to begin in Raipur on 30 April 2008: "the district court’s limit of one supporter of the defendant at the trial is unnecessarily restrictive and raises broader concerns about the fairness of the trial.
In 2008, a group of 22 Nobel laureates - ranging from medicine winners to economics honorees - sent a letter to India's president and prime minister expressing their concerns about the case against Sen, saying he appeared to have been jailed for "exercising his fundamental human rights". [Read more Here]
The New Trade Union Initiative has criticised the conviction of Dr. Sen and others and urged the Centre to file an appeal in defence of the rights of its citizens. In a statement issued here, it said over the past month the prosecution had been receiving wide publicity for “false and preposterous claims.” It said an email from Dr. Sen's wife, Ilina Sen, to the Delhi-based Indian Social Institute (ISI), was submitted as a proof of his contact with the Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence).
I haven't ever heard of the name Binayak Sen before he was just convicted and the news made the headlines. I don't know if it's right to blame the media for my ignorance or not... But I can sure blame the ignorance of thousands of people like me for letting such an unfair thing take place... There are so many other people who have been fighting for his case. One such example is this website and this one.
Though his work was in the voluntary sector, Dr. Sen cooperated closely with the government, especially in conceptualizing and designing the Mitanin programme in Chhattisgarh that went on to provide the model for the ASHA of the National Rural Health Mission. He was a member of the State Advisory Committee on Health Sector Reforms during the Ajit Jogi government in Chhattisgarh. Binayak was among the first to draw public attention to widespread human rights violations in the wake of the Salwa Judum. An all-India team investigated and published a report on Salwa Judum in November 2005. [For More]
I searched the net for an hour to find something which a Government spokesperson might have said regarding the case and could find none... none at all. The Chhattisgarh Government's conveniently maintaining silence.Meanwhile, activists are protesting for the release of Dr. Sen and the repeal of Unlawful Activities[Prevention] Act.