CHENNAI: Members of the Committee for the Release of Binayak Sen — a network of activists, academics and journalists — held a protest meet here for the release of public health professional Binayak Sen who has been incarcerated for two years now in Chattisgarh under its state Public Security Act for alleged links with Naxalites.
On Thursday, students from various colleges and workers of the Penn Thozhilalar Sangam took part in a cycle rally distributing pamphlets in prominent locations such as Citi Centre and Gandhi statue in Marina beach to elicit public support for the cause.
Activists said Dr.Sen had been vocal in his criticism of the Salwa Judum, a private State-backed army in Chattisgarh to counter Naxal activities.
Sujata Mody, president of the Penn Thozhilalar Sangam said the detention of Dr.Sen was on weak charges.
“The prolonged detention is a punitive measure of the state to deny individuals the right to democratic dissent,” she said.
A satyagraha has been on in Raipur for the last four months protesting the arrest.
A.Marx of the People’s Union for Human Rights said the rally was also a means to press for constitutional governance in the country.
“The Salwa Judum is an illegal organisation. It is a form of state repression that must not go unquestioned,” he said.
V.Geetha, a feminist author, said that incidents like this were part of a larger attempt to shrink democratic space in India.
“We are becoming increasingly adept in maintaining the formal aspects of democracy such as the elections, while its substantive core based in rights is shrinking,” she said.
She said the protest was to remind political class that they could not get away with anything that they do.
Cultural programmes such as poetry reading were also part of the protest meeting in which youth cultural organisations such as Thandora and Pudhiya Porali participated.