Against Chhattisgarh Government and Police
Demand the Release of Soni Sodi and Lingaram Kodopi
Demand unfettered access to Journalists and Civil Society activists across the
conflict torn areas of Chhattisgarh
Demand the repeal of black laws like Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Ac
Shankar Subbu Sr.Adv, High Court of Madras
V Geetha Writer
A Marx Human Rights Activist
Mangai Theater activist
R Mohan Madras Union of Journalist
Tamilazhagan Journalist for Change
Date: 4th November 2011 (Friday)
Venue: Near Panagal Maaligai, Saidapet Bus Stand
One of the main demands of the Free Binayak Sen campaign has been the repeal of draconian Indian laws such as UAPA, CSPSA, AFSPA, etc. which legitimize the suspension of constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties and due processes, all in the name of national security. While the UAPA, etc. are new laws, the law against Sedition, under which Dr.Sen was convicted, is actually a direct carryover from British colonial law. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, was convicted for sedition in 1922. Many commentators are critiquing this law and are asking what sedition means within a democratic set-up.
One of such critiques has been advanced by Arvind Kejriwal, civil servant-turned-activist who works on combating corruption through the use of the Right to Information law. (you might also recall that Mr.Kejriwal was awarded the Magsaysay prize for his work with RTI).
The letter by Arvind Kejriwal is hosted here: http://sarajahan.org/
If you agree with Mr.Kejriwal’s argument, you may endorse it. Regardless of whether you wish to endorse it or not, do take the time to read the letter. It raises some basic and thought-provoking questions about what exactly constitutes sedition and how the law against sedition is being used today to stifle democratic dissent.
On 30th January 2011, a non-violent and silent protest was organized at Gandhi Pratima, Indore at 10 a.m. The focus of the protest was demanding immediate release of Dr Binayak Sen and other individuals, who fight for the rights of people, protect human rights for justice and are apparently innocent.
The protest also underscored the anti-people Act – Chattisgarh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam – as infringement of the international standards of human rights. Ironically during the protest the city of Indore was under the grip of section 144 CrPC restricting the fundamental right of citizens to freedom of expression. The heavy police force and administration tried to stop the group from staging even a silent protest under the’ hawala’ of 144 and deterred us from forming a human chain.
However the human chain marking the protest against persecution of Dr Binayak Sen and others was successful and continued for at least 10 minutes in the face of the restraint being imposed by the administration. After a few minutes of warning and threat of arrest from the officials and the police, the members of Samarthak Samooh were getting prepared to give arrest.
Meanwhile, Dr Bharat Chapparwal, ex vice-chancellor, DAVV, Indore, Perin Daji and other senior citizens negotiated and pacified the officers, allowing the group to express their solidarity with Binayak Sen and others. Subsequently pamplets were distributed inside the Gandhi pratima circle and nearby areas. The protest ended with slogans like – ‘Binayak Sen aur saathiyo ko riha karo’, ‘jhoothe aarop lagana band karo’, ‘Raman singh Murdabad’ etc.
The campaign was carried out with active participation of Dr Bharat Chhaparwal, Perin Daji, Chinmay Mishra, Kalpana Mehta, Pramod Bagdi, Dinesh Kothari, Devi Prashad Mourya Ashok dubey, Tapan Bhatacharya, Sidhartha jain, Ajay Lagoo, Amulya Nidhi, Satnarayan patel , Arvind Porwal, Belu Bhargav, Dr G. D verma, Tanvir farooqi, Rakesh sastiya, Sarika, Sree Prakash, Rakesh Chandore, Rajendra Bajore, Deepmal Patel, Vijaya, Sudhakar, Ramesh Gawai, Sapna, Mukesh, Premsingh Parmar and representatives of various organizations and individuals.
Supporters in 12 cities- in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.- took to the streets to mark the Global Day of Protest on January 30th demanding the freedom of Dr. Binayak Sen and many other political prisoners, the repealing of draconian laws, and the disbanding of vigilante forces in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The coordinated actions- demonstrations, vigils, public meetings, film screenings, public marches, etc. (click here for video) were the result of a call by the Free Binayak Sen coalition, a broad grouping of over 57 civil society groups.
Dr.Ramachandra Guha, a well-known historian from India who has also worked to highlight grave human right violations by the government of Chhattisgarh joined the protest in Harvard Square, Boston, and urged the 50-odd protesters not to lose sight of the many ordinary adivasis (indigenous people) who, like Dr. Sen, are also victims of persecution, and have had their homes burnt or kinsfolk murdered by state-sponsored vigilantes, but in the prevailing atmosphere of intimidation are too terrified to file FIRs or seek justice.
Demonstrations were held in front of the Indian Consulates in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC and London, while in Vancouver, Canada, 80 people marched from the Public Library to the Consulate of India. Panel discussions and public awareness events were held in Amherst, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles. Supporters in the cities of Seattle and Austin held candle light vigils.
University teachers, intellectuals, artists and activists assembled from all across the state on Sunday to take part in a protest rally against the Chhattisgarh High Court judgment that led to the arrest of the tribal rights activist Dr Binayak Sen.
The Peoples Union for Civil Liberties, which organised the rally, called for scrapping of the sedition Act, terming it as archaic.
“There have been similar protests across the country in the wake of Dr Binayak Sen’s arrest following the judgment by Chhattisgarh High Court. We demonstrated before the public at Gandhi Nagar Gruh on Sunday, which was followed by two street plays performed by members of Shishu Milap and students of M S University’s Faculty of Fine Arts,” said PUCL member Renu Khanna.
Rohit Prajapati, another PUCL member said: “We are all Binayak Sen, so we ask the government to arrest us as well.” PUCL members also discussed similar arrests under the name of banned outfits such Communist Party of India (Maoist) in south Gujarat.
The Hindu, January 31: Nearly five weeks after human rights activist and medical practitioner Binayak Sen was convicted on charges of sedition and awarded life sentence by the Raipur Sessions Court, protests demanding his immediate release continued here on Sunday with his 84-year-old mother Anasuya Sen taking to the streets demanding justice for her son.
Ms. Sen said, “This fight is not against an individual…. It is against injustice. Laws like Section 124(a) of the IPC have no place in a free country. What else can one call it but anarchy, that the State would convict a person for sedition when he has worked for its people for 30 years. I only want to say that those who have knowingly done this injustice that this will not continue in our country.”
She joined the rally because she wanted to prove that she could fight as a mother, so that no prison could hold back any son illegally.
She had come to the rally all the way form her home in Kalyani in Nadia district to participate in the rally, organised by various rights organisations that observed January 30 as International Protest Day.
She said that if the need arose, she would also go to Delhi to press for her demand to release her son.
“I hope that he will be released soon and will be able to get back to his work with his head held high,” Ms. Sen said.
Social activists belonging to the ‘Release Binayak Sen committee – Pune’ organised a public demonstration in Pune on 30thJanuary, demanding the release of Dr. Binayak Sen as part of the global day of protest. The demonstration began at 11 am at Majoor Adda, by paying homage to martyrs of the freedom struggle. Subsequently the procession walked down Laxmi Road (one of the major roads of the city) shouting slogans like ‘Dr. Binayak Sen ko riha karo!’, ‘Chhattisgarh sarkar hosh mein aao!’ and ‘Julmi kayade radda kara!’ (repeal repressive laws).
Resonating with the ‘jail bharo’ agitation in other areas, another slogan raised was – ‘Dr. Binayak Sen yana mukta kara – nahi tar amhala atak kara!’ (Release Dr. Binayak Sen – otherwise arrest all of us too’). Pamphlets on the issue were distributed to bystanders and the general public. An additional demand raised was asking the Maharashtra police to withdraw cases against Dr. Ilina Sen, who has been harassed on spurious charges after the IAWS conference in Wardha.
The rally culminated at Mandai, with a short public meeting where Milind Chavan, Manisha Gupte, Neeraj Jain, Shanta Ranade and Abhay Shukla briefly spoke on the need to continue the struggle for democracy, and for many more people to join the campaign for release of Dr. Binayak Sen.
Basanti Colony, Ultadanga– Dr. Sumitran Basu, Dr. Soumya Kanti Bag, Dr. Moloy Bar and Dr. Ratul Banerjee served 120 patients in this fire devastated slum of Ultadanga.
Jamespur, Gosaba, Sundarbans– Dr. Chayan Datta Roy, Dr. Punyabrata Gun and Dr. Sumit Das examined 38 patients at Jamespur village of the riverine island Dayapur in the Gosaba block of Sundarbans in South 24 parganas.
The next medical camp will be held at Kamarhati industrial area of North Kolkata.
There were protests all over the country demanding the Release of Dr. Binayak Sen and others who have been similarly targetted along with the demand of scrapping the sedition law.
More than 2000 people marched from Red Fort to Shaheed Bhagat Singh Park in New Delhi demanding the release of Dr. Sen and the scrapping of the law on sedition. Large numbers of trade unions, students and social activists joined the rally. Amongst those present included NAPM leader Medha Patkar and CPI leader D.Raja.
In Raipur more than a thousand people marched the streets, in Jaipur more than 250 people courted arrest, in Indore hundreds of people formed a human chain, In Varanasi more than forty organisations took out a 3 kilometer Shanti and Satyagarh Yatra. There was a candel light vigil in Bangalore and Lucknow, In Ranchi too there was a march in the city, In Sitapur, in UP the bar association along with other organisations passed a resolution demanding the release of Dr Sen.
In Mumbai a protest meeting was held in Shramik Hall, In Hyderabad similarly several organisations got together and organised a public meeting and in Vadodra too PUCL members organised a protest. In Kolkata, over 1000 protesters marched from College Square to Metro Channel on January 30, Sunday demanding unconditional release of Dr. Binayak Sen and others implicated in false cases. Anusuya Sen, mother of Dr. Sen marched with the protesters.
In Assam several activists signed a petition and sent it to the President of India.
Several cities are having protest after January 30th too.