Mumbai Readies for Observing May 14: The Second Anniversary of Dr. Binayak Sen’s Unjust Imprisonment
Dr, Binayak sen, an award-winning doctor with brilliant academic records – who had settled in Raipur with the mission of serving the poor and oppressed adivasis – and a leading human rights activist – national Vice President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and its state Secretary – is languishing behind the bars as a result of vindictive actions by the state government of Chattisgarh for almost two years by now.
He was thrown behind bars on May 14 2007 on trumped up charges under draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 (CSPSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2004 (UAPA). As a result he is persistently denied bail, even if the charges have been framed and the case is crumbling.
The central charge that he was smuggling letters to and from an ailing and elderly imprisoned Maoist leader, Narayan Sanyal, in the Raipur jail whom he had been visiting both as a human rights activist and a doctor of some repute with the express permission of the concerned jailor is just ridiculous. For the simple reason that as per the norms laid down by the jail manual he used to be thoroughly searched while going in and coming out of the jail premises.
The imprisonment is an obvious act of revenge as Dr. Sen had played a stellar role in drawing national and international attention to the gross and large-scale atrocities perpetrated by Salwa Judum, a private militia set up by the state government, purportedly to fight out Maoist insurgency in the Bastar region. Dr. Sen’s efforts indeed succeeded in significant measures. So much so that even the Indian Supreme Court April last year passed a stricture against the state government in this regard. The arrest is also meant to be chilling message to all others not to mess with the state government and its brutal and evidently illegal Salwa Judum campaign.
Both nationally and internationally renowned figures – including retired Supreme Court judge and famous jurist V R Krishna Iyer, Arundhati Roy, Noam Chomsky, leading doctors and 22 Nobel laureates – have appealed for his release. The internationally esteemed medical journal The Lancet in its current April issue has stingingly critiqued the Indian judicial system. The Amnesty International and other national and international human rights organisations have appealed for his release.
Yet he still remains behind the bars.
Not only that, as he is suffering from life threatening heart problems a local medical specialist under the trial court’s instruction examined him and referred to the Christian Medical College in Vellore, his alma mater, for further diagnosis and treatment on urgent basis. Yet, the local administration is blocking even that even if he is ready to bear the costs of his own medical treatment. Apparently in a bid to snuff life out of this intrepid fighter.
Outraged Mumbai, in solidarity with Dr. Sen and his life’s mission, is holding protest gatherings every Monday afternoon starting from April 27. Flyers are being distributed. And signatures from common citizens collected appealing the Chief Justice of India for his immediate release. A wide cross-section of Mumbaikars – trade unionists, feminists, lawyers doctors, students, teachers, journalists, human rights and social activists – has come together on a single platform to give voice to their righteous anger.
And the coming May 14, on the occasion of the second anniversary of Dr. Sen’s imprisonment, a public meet will be held at the Dhuru Hall, Dadar (W) at 6 30 PM. This will follow a morcha by protestors donning specially designed T-shirts displaying (caged) Binayak and the calls to free him and defend the precious right to dissent. In the meeting, apart from prominent speakers, well-known and young artistes will perform. There will be songs, recitations, reading out of original compositions by the poets. Protests paintings would also be on display.
Preparations are in full swing to make the event a roaring success.