Posts Tagged ‘draconian law
India’s growth rate cannot be made a national objective
While there will be general agreement that the judgment in Binayak Sen’s case represents a gross miscarriage of justice, most people will attribute it to the overzealousness of a lower judicial functionary, or, at the most, to the prevailing atmosphere in the state of Chhattisgarh. If the trial had been held elsewhere, they would argue, Sen would not have got the verdict he did. They are probably right, just as those who attribute the bringing of sedition charges against Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Shah Geelani to the overzealousness of the Delhi police, and against Sudhir Dhawale to the overzealousness of the Maharashtra police, may well be right. But such overzealousness, instances of which are multiplying alarmingly, thrives within, and derives sustenance from, a certain ambience. This consists of the increasing tendency, under the current neo-liberal dispensation, to see any basic ideological opposition to the parameters of official policy as anti-national. The tendency, in short, is to criminalize ideological dissent. Of course, one must not cry wolf, but one must not ignore this tendency either. To do so will be fatal.
The Campaign for the Release of Dr Binayak Sen, Bangalore welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court to grant bail to Dr Sen. Dr. Sen’s incarceration had become a symbol of brutal state force, especially after a sustained national and international campaign for his release that involved a wide spectrum of human rights activists, health workers, doctors, trade union workers, grass root movements, NGOs, and other civil society members. Justice Markandeya Katju and Justice Deepak Verma after a very brief hearing on 25th May, 2009, granted bail on production of a personal bond after senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan had appeared before the Court on behalf of Dr. Sen. Dr Sen was arrested by the Chhattisgarh government on May 14th 2007 on charges of abetting Naxalites. Amongst the laws that he was detained under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, enacted by the Raman Sigh government in 2005. Dr Sen was one of the first of more than 43 people who have been detained under this Act.
Dr Sen’s arrest was a result of his tireless work as a member of the Peoples Union of Civil Liberties, Chhattisgarh in exposing the state government’s human rights abuses, especially violations by the state-sponsored vigilante force Salwa Judum. He was one of the few voices of dissent in state that clamps down on democratic rights in the name of fighting Naxalism. A recent example was the Chhattisgarh government’s demolition of the 17 year-old Vanvasi Chethana Ashram (VCA) in Dantewada run by Gandhian Himanshu Kumar. Though the VCA was contesting an eviction notice filed by the local administration alleging that it was occupying revenue forest land, on May 15th, 2009, 250-300 members of the District Force (DF), Special Police Officers (SPO), and Chhattisgarh police, razed the ashram to the ground. Himanshu Kumar was been instrumental in exposing the fake encounter of 12 adivasis from the Singara Salwa Judum relief camp on March 30th 2009. He was also been working towards the rehabilitation of some of the thousands displaced by the Salwa Judum. Journalists and students who were present during this demolition were intimidated and severely beaten up by the police. Two of those who were beaten were students from the Indian Institute of Science (IISC), Bangalore.
Opinion & Analysis
Business Standard / New Delhi May 27, 2009, 0:40 IST
The Binayak Sen and Nimesh Kampani cases must be used to draw up some markers that state assemblies should be advised to not cross when passing laws
It is shameful that Binayak Sen had to be in jail for nearly two years, on charges that the state has so far failed to establish, before he could get bail. It is equally scandalous that Dr Sen should have been denied access to medical care of his choice, after it was established that he suffered from a heart condition. The Supreme Court finally stepped in on Monday to decide, in a minute, that this was a fit case for granting bail. But if it was such an open and shut case that the court could come to a view in a minute, should it have taken so long to get bail for Dr Sen—especially since it has been manifestly clear to everyone with an open mind that he is not a candidate for extreme rendition? The charge that he was waging war against the state (by carrying a letter from a Maoist whom he was treating in jail, with the permission of the jail authorities) will eventually stand or fall on the basis of the evidence that is produced, but the truth is that the state government has so far been able to do little to establish its charge, despite the passage of two years. Dr Sen’s record, as someone who has devoted his life to providing medical care for the poor, as someone who has been a human rights activist, and as someone who had voluntarily gone to answer a summons rather than running from the law, should have been seen as relevant factors and helped him get bail a long time ago. If a draconian state law could be first enacted and then used against such a person in the manner that it has, then the right to pass such laws should be questioned.
India Continues to Imprison Human Rights Activist Dr. Binayak Sen
Last week marked the second anniversary of the detention of the internationally recognized award-winning human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen, who’s worked as a public health professional in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh for twenty-five years. He was arrested on May 14, 2007, for allegedly helping the Maoist, also known as the Naxalite, insurgency in the state and detained under one of India’s most draconian laws, the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.
Watch it/ Download MP3 at Democracy Now
ANJALI KAMAT: Well, moving on to Binayak Sen, last week marked the second anniversary of the detention of the internationally recognized, award-winning human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen, who has worked as a public health professional in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh for twenty-five years. He was arrested on May 14th, 2007, for allegedly helping the Maoist, also known as the Naxalite, insurgency in the state and detained under one of India’s most draconian laws, the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. He’s the National Vice President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, or the PUCL. He’s been denied bail and medical treatment, despite his worsening health.
I spoke to his wife, Ilina Sen, on Sunday.
By Sadanand Menon
It is with a deep sense of indignation one writes this piece today, May 14, 2009. Exactly two years ago pediatrician and human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen, was picked up by the Chhattisgarh police and incarcerated in a Raipur prison on charges of ‘waging war’ against the State under various sections of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (amended) 2004.
The charges against Dr. Sen include aiding and abetting Naxalites and sedition. Both the CSPSA, 2005 and the UAPA (amended) 2004 are ridiculously draconian laws, ultra vires of the Constituional guarantees provided to the citizen and several human rights organizations along with the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) have been campaigning for their repeal and for the release of over 178 people detained under it. Those detained include lawyers, journalists, film makers, tradesmen, agricultural workers, activists in NGOs, cultural workers and such.
Both nationally and internationally enough mobilization and solidarity has been expressed by concerned citizens, including a committee of Nobel laureates and associations of professionals from the medical field. Amnesty International has described Binayak Sen as a ‘Prisoner of Conscience’. But the State has refused to budge. It has stuck to its version of the good doctor being a threat to law and order through actions interpreted as supporting the underground Maoists in the region.
In a more substantial sense, Binayak Sen’s work was seen as pioneering and life-saving in the Dantewada region of Chhattisgarh, where poor adivasis were subjected to extreme terror and coercion by agents of the State disguised as ‘Salwa Judum’, who were on a land-grab spree. Over three decades of work in the region by Dr.Sen to restore rights to the dispossessed has boomeranged, he himself now being dubbed an ‘enemy of the State’. That he has consistently been denied bail for two years and that now he is even being denied necessary medical help seems just a churlish retaliation against a humanitarian doctor who spared no opportunity to criticize and expose the abysmal human rights record of the Chhattisgarh government.
By Keya Acharya
BANGALORE, May 8 (IPS) – Even while India goes to the polls in a lumbering show of democracy, human rights activist-doctor Binayak Sen remains in prison on unproven terrorism charges.
Sen’s bail plea was finally admitted by the apex Supreme Court (SC) on May 4, 10 days short of his second anniversary in jail in Raipur, capital of the central state of Chhatisgarh where Sen has practiced as a doctor to the rural poor for nearly three decades.
The SC has now asked the state government to report, posting a final hearing in another fortnight. The SC has also asked the Chhatisgarh government to ensure that the best medical treatment be made available to Sen.
Prison authorities have refused Sen, who was diagnosed with cardiac symptoms, permission to go to his alma mater, the reputed Christian Medical College, Vellore, south India, for cardiac surgery.
Sen has refused treatment in Raipur saying he perceived a threat to his life from a local hospital and that he had the legal right to a hospital of his choice.
“I think he’s in danger,” his wife Illina Sen, a professor of women’s studies in Wardha University, told IPS on the telephone from Raipur. “… Binayak is absolutely right that his life may be in danger in any facility controlled by the state in Chhatisgarh.”
The government accused Sen of passing on a set of letters from Narayan Sanyal, a guerrilla Naxal, or Maoist leader in Raipur jail, to a businessman with alleged close links to the radical left movement in Chhatisgarh. He is charged under the sweepingly-powerful Chhatisgarh State Public Security Act 2005, for “hatching a conspiracy” and abetting terrorism.
The Naxal movement, rampant in the southern forested belt of Chhattisgarh, is an armed and violent guerilla conflict born from long years of socio-economic inequality, alienation and displacement of tribals from their lands.
In its turn, the state authorities have aided and abetted an even more violent vigilante movement started in 2005 to quash the Maoists.
The movement, called Salwa Judum is charged by the independent, national People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), of which Sen is the state co-ordinator, of using rape, arson, intimidation and other brutalties to forcefully evict all tribal settlements in the district under the guise of their being Naxals.
Take a look at Two Years too Much!! Page for a list of actions happening around May 14th, 2nd anniversary of Dr. Binayak Sen’s unjust imprisonment
On 14th May, 2009, Dr. Binayak Sen – paediatrician and one of India’s finest human rights activist – will be completing two years in jail. Dr. Sen is in jail because he raised his voice against Salwa Judum – an illegal private army created by the Chattisgarh state government which now even the Supreme Court has criticised, because he was protesting the forcible displacement of lakhs of tribals in the state in the name of development, because he exposed fake encounter killings by the police. To silence his tireless and fearless voice, the government has incarcerated him under the draconian CSPSA and UAPA – undemocratic laws which give almost unlimited powers to the police to arrest and put behind bars for years ordinary people!
It is a part of the general attack on democratic rights taking place all over the country. It is related to the kind of development taking place all over the country in the name of globalization:
The politicians, bureaucracy, police have launched a ferocious offensive on the lands, water and forests of the poor. They want to seize control of these means of livelihoods of the common people and transfer them to giant corporations – Indian and foreign – so that they can set up mining projects, mega industrial projects, SEZs, tourism projects, residential projects for the rich, and so on, and earn super profits.
It has led to massive displacement of people and loss of their livelihoods. The people are obviously fighting back. And so, under all kinds of pretexts like fighting terrorism, the criminals and murderers who dominate the Indian Parliament are passing the most draconian laws which give almost unlimited powers to the police to arrest and put behind bars for years ordinary people!
To raise awareness among the people about the kind of development in the country and the attack on human rights, Lokayat is organising a documentary festival on this Saturday.
Dr. Binayak Sen Film Festival
Date: May 9, 2009
Time: 5 – 8 pm
Venue: Lokayat Hall, opp. Syndicate Bank, Law College Road, Near Nal Stop, Pune
Entry is free.
The New Indian Express
Home > Opinion > Editorials
Binayak Sen continues to languish in a Chhattisgarh prison, jailed under a draconian law by the State and denied relief. It is eminently to be hoped that his latest plea for bail before the Supreme Court will lead to positive results. Sen’s incarceration on charges of abetting ultra-Left activists, in fact, for a year before trial proceedings even started, is a poor advertisement for Indian democracy. Consider his record. Sen is a doctor who has done more than most, certainly more than the Chhattisgarh government, to reach healthcare to those most in need of it — the poorest of people in some of the poorest regions of the country. In doing so, moreover, he provided a model of participation, involving the people as agents rather than objects. He has also been an indefatigable campaigner for human rights and has been on record saying that he does not approve the methods employed by the Maoists in Chhattisgarh. If then, he is in jail for sympathising with their broad objectives, one might safely hazard that tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens should also be in custody. Sen has been feted with a clutch of awards both national and international, the latest being one for his work in protecting human rights and promoting healthcare and iterating the need for looking at the two things as related. The Madhya Pradesh government had adopted his model of work and involved him in setting up State health schemes.
Even if we were to assume, for the purpose of debate, that Sen has some involvement with the Naxals, it beggars belief that the State should have thought it necessary to imprison him under a draconian preventive detention law, especially given the fact that since his trial has begun virtually no evidence has been adduced to demonstrate his culpability. Conceivably, any legal proceedings against him could have traversed the more usual routes, with Sen free to carry out the humanitarian work for which he has justifiably earned an international reputation, which is not, of course, to say that lesser mortals should be deprived of their human rights by a government apparatus that revels in repression while blithely abdicating its enabling role in what should be a welfare-oriented state. The full measure of the State government’s perversity can be gauged from its steadfast refusal last year to even listen to worldwide appeals, including those by an A-list of Nobel laureates, for his temporary release to travel to the US to receive his award.
By Anand Teltumbde
04 May, 2009
On May 2, Dr. Man Mohan Singh, the Prime Minister of India came out in defence of the CBI’s decision to withdraw a 12 year old Red Corner Notice to Interpol against Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Bofor case. On 28 April, in the midst of general election and when barely three weeks were left for the term of the UPA-government to end, CBI opened the floodgates for media to launch a sterile debate over Quattrocchi, by its controversial decision. The Congress apologetically sang a song of CBI’s autonomy, knowing fully well that it cannot find perhaps a single buyer for it. The opposition rightly smelt a rat. It however failed to sound clearer. The decision smacked of the Congress being not sure to come to power. When the Congress spokesmen had done a good job of raising a smokescreen of judicial process to cover up the CBI decision, the intervention of Dr. Singh justifying it on moral grounds came as a pleasant surprise. He said in an interview with CNN-IBN, “It is not a good reflection on the Indian legal system that we harass people while the world says we have no case.” Indeed, it does not behave the country of India’s stature to ignore world opinion!
But one is suddenly reminded of India persistently ignoring the world opinion in the case of an Indian doctor. Unlike Dr. Singh’s abstract world, here there has been a concrete world of Human Rights activists, the world of medical fraternity and the world of greatest living brains, the 22 Nobel laureates, pointing to the government of a serious moral lapse and pleading to free Dr. Binayak Sen as it did not have a case. Dr. Sen is languishing in the Raipur jail for nearly two years for a cooked up charge of being a carrier of letters from a naxalite leader, incarcerated in the Raipur jail, for which the government could not produce even a shred of evidence whatsoever. Leave apart moral outrage, he is not being given medical treatment for his heart ailment, something basic that anybody is legally due.
This is an extremely enlightening case about how corporations (and by extension, other powerful interests in the society) can use the vague provisions of Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act to harass people they consider troublesome.
Pawan Verma was a worker – an expert cook in the Canteen and VIP Guesthouse of the erstwhile L&T Cement, now Ultratech Cement plant at Hirmi, district Raipur, Chhattisgarh. A few years ago, fed up with the anti-worker attitude of the management, he took voluntary retirement and lives in village Hirmi. I have known him ever since I fought cases for his union Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh.
Recently he contacted me after it was published in the local newspapers that his daughter Ruchi Verma and her husband Bhola Bagh (both under 30 years of age), and their one-and-a-half year old son had been arrested under Section 8(1) (3) and (5) of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act (CSPSA). It was alleged that a “Naxalite woman” had confessed to the police that she had put up for a short while with the couple. Section 8(1) of the CSPSA is the penalty for being the member of an unlawful organisation, while 8(3) and (5) concern managing or aiding such an organisation..
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