Posts Tagged ‘ilina
By Krishna Pokharel
India Real Time
Wall Street Journal
The Chhattisgarh court verdict that convicted Binayak Sen of sedition and sentenced him to life in prison has largely generated support and sympathy for the doctor who has spent most of his life working among tribal Indians in conflict-afflicted central India. Only a few voices said they agreed with the verdict. India Real Time presents a sample of what people said about the decision:
Dr. Sen was convicted for passing on notes from a Maoist prisoner he was treating, which the doctor has denied doing. The state in which he was convicted is at the heart of a violent Maoist rebellion against the Indian government. The rebels say they are fighting on behalf of poor tribals who stand to lose as industry tries to extract the mineral riches of central India.
Journalist M.J. Akbar, editor of the weekly magazine India Today, wrote on his personal blog on Saturday: “India has become a strange democracy where Binayak Sen gets life in jail and dacoits get a life in luxury.”
The “dacoits” in that sentence is a reference to politicians being investigated in connection with a spate of corruption scandals this year.
“Binayak made a fundamental, mortal mistake. He was on the side of the poor. That is a non-negotiable error in our oligarchic democracy,” Mr. Akbar continued, adding a personal touch. “Sen, who was senior to me in school, was and remains the gentlest of people, distinguished only by a fierce commitment to his cause of choice. I do not agree with his political views or inclinations; nor does the political system. But it is only in a dictatorship that disagreement is sufficient reason for incarceration.”
By Patralekha Chatterjee
There is much to celebrate. Dr Binayak Sen has been finally granted bail by the Supreme Court. The 59-year-old doctor and human rights activist has paid a steep price for defending the health and rights of tribal communities in remote pockets of Chhattisgarh: two precious years of his life spent within the four walls of Raipur jail, and denial of medical treatment at a hospital of his choice despite a heart ailment and worldwide pleas from Nobel laureates, human rights activists, doctors and numerous concerned citizens.
The personal ordeal of Dr Sen, winner of the prestigious 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, appears to be temporarily over. But the issues thrown up by the Binayak Sen case go beyond an individual, his iconic status, or the suffering of his family. They raise inconvenient questions about India today, which can be dodged only at great risk.
“The bail has nothing to do with the ongoing trial. It’s the discretion of the Supreme Court to grant him bail. But the trial will continue”, said a miffed Raman Singh, Chhattisgarh’s BJP chief minister, immediately after the order of the country’s highest court. Dr Sen was arrested under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act in May 2007 for suspected links with Maoist rebels. The prosecution has failed to throw up legally-admissible evidence to support the accusations in the chargesheet till date, and this is not for want of trying.
Here’s a bit of context to Dr Sen, the public health activist. I caught a glimpse of the man’s vision on a visit to the health clinic in Bagrimnala village, a tribal backwater plagued by malaria and malnutrition in Chhattisgarh’s Dhamtari district, in mid-April this year.
I will try to resolve the conflict through political engagement, military engagement is not a solution
“I take this opportunity to remember thousands of people who are languishing in jail in many states after being detained under draconian and black laws like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. I am not alone. There are many others in several states. I am with them.”
Raipur, May 26 (IANS) A day after the Supreme Court granted him bail, noted human rights activist Binayak Sen walked out of jail Tuesday evening after a more than two-year-long confinement, amid jubilation by dozens of rights activists.
Emerging out of Raipur central jail, Sen, whose wife Ilina was by his side, asserted that his struggle for peace would continue and he condemned all violence in the state.
“I will continue to fight and struggle for peace, any sort of violence whether it is by the military or by the Maoists, I condemn. I will try to resolve the conflict through political engagement, military engagement is not a solution,” he told reporters.
Sen also called for “Salwa Judum”, the state government-backed civil militia movement, to be scrapped.
“My effort for restoration of peace will continue, I will continue to work for the people in the state,” he added.
David Barsamian Interviews Satya Sivaraman
Satya Sivaraman is an independent journalist, filmmaker and human rights activist based in New Delhi. He is the author of “Asia Sees America and other Rants.”
In your article “The Mistrial of Dr. Binayak Sen” you write, “Anyone trying to figure out, after the recent Mumbai attacks, whether India will ever win its war on terrorism should take a close look at a court case currently underway in the central Indian province of Chhattisgarh.” Who is Binayak Sen?
Dr. Binayak Sen is a medical doctor who has been working in the province of Chhattisgarh. He’s a graduate of the prestigious Christian Medical College in Vellore, in south India. When he was employed at the one of the top universities in Delhi, he decided to go to this province where there was a very interesting independent trade union movement called the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, where the union leaders, apart from the usual union kind of activities and activism, wanted to also address issues of health, particularly for workers, because the state of public health and public health infrastructure is so poor in many parts of India.
So he went there and he helped set up the Shaheed (Martyrs) Hospital, which became the first hospital run by a trade union in this country. It was low-cost health care for the first time affordable to a lot of people, not just workers but the whole area around the hospital. Shankar Guha Niyogi, the leader of the trade union movement was the visionary behind this whole idea of integrating health care into trade union activities. Health care as in direct intervention in health care; not just demanding that the government give them medical facilities but also actually doing somebody about it hands on. Niyogi was assassinated in 1991 by goons allegedly hired by the owners of the Simplex Group of companies.
By Bharat Dogra
There is much in Indian democracy that we can justifiably be proud of. Yet on occasion, the authorities betray an obstinate tendency towards ruthless and revengeful injustice against social activists and movements. This undermines, even stigmatises, democracy. Quite often this is the outcome of intense prejudice, poor investigation and failure of governance. The crisis gets prolonged as justice is denied because the government refuses to acknowledge that its initial decision was distorted. That initial blunder is compounded when the administration makes it an issue of false prestige. This intensifies the agony of the victims, and makes a mockery of the basic tenets of democracy. There ought to be a system of checks and balances before it is too late.
It is this intrinsic ability of democracy that is at stake in the case of the prolonged and unjustified imprisonment of Dr Binayak Sen, a highly accomplished doctor devoted to serving the poor, and one who doubled as a fearless human rights activist. Accused of such flimsy charges as carrying letters from an alleged Naxalite prisoner, Dr. Sen has been in jail for two years despite relentless protests by civil society and organisations as well as appeals for his release by eminent personalities the world over.
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.
Mukti Utsav Raipur: Demanding the release of Dr. Binayak Sen and in support of democratic rights in Chhattisgarh
Freedom Festival (Mukti Utsav)
Raypur Satyagraha May 13th Cultural Event
Sahu Bhavan, Bairan Bazaar, Raipur
To mark two years of unjust incarceration of Dr. Binayak Sen, hundreds of artists, poets, activists, writers, workers and ordinary people from across India gathered for an evening of cultural resistance at 6.30 pm and demanded immediate release of Dr. Sen.
The artists condemned the repression of peaceful democratic dissent by the Chhattisgarh government. The performances reflected the power of people’s resistance and encouraged the people to resist with greater determination. It was a vibrant evening with high energy, hope and celebration of people’s struggles against oppressive state.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Ilina Sen asked provocatively: what is a nation? who is the nation? Does it include its people and people’s aspirations? If it does, then how can Mr. Sen, a champion of people’s causes be arrested as being anti-national? She hoped for the speedy release of Dr. Sen and for the day when people of Chhatiisgarh could live in peace.
The messages of the various artists were very powerful and inspiring. The Qawwals led by Mubarak Ali from Bhopal inspired by Amir Khusro’s famous doha ‘the tilak has been snatched away ever since you have stolen my glance’ they sang “government who destroys us, we appeal to you don’t destroy our eyes, they long to see Binayak” Referring to Dr. Sen’s imprisonment they sang “since the time you left us, the city seems deserted”.
The Thurmil’s all-women pandvani group from Durg, who traditionally sing the Mahabharata sang “Chhattisgarh is asking, Give us our freedom, We don’t need Salwa Judum, We don’t need your bullets and sticks, We don’t need your enemy law, All we ask for is, Give us our freedom”
Bhuiayan ki Chirag, the cultural troupe of Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, Bhilai they sang “Every morning, we eat the leftovers of the previous night, but remember, I am the Chhattisgarh who tills the land, Chhattisgarh is Mine! Mine!”
Mr. Mir Ali Mir and Mr. Sham Bahadur Namri rendered their poetry on Mr. Binayak Sen, Bhopal Gas Tragedy and ecological destruction. Anjaam (about Mr. Sen) a film by Mr. Ajay TG and Gaon chodab nahin, a music video against displacement of adivasis by development projects by KP Sasi were screened.
People participating and organizing the program include: Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha represented by Lakhan Singh, People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Chhattisgarh represented by Rajendra Sail (President) and Vijendra (Joint Secreatary), Rupantar, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, JNU Students Union-Delhi, students of the Centre for Islamic Studies, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Drik Sakshi.
There was a large contingent from Karnataka including students of Indian Institute of Science, People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Karnataka, Alternative Law Forum, Karnataka Sex Workers Union, Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, Sadhane, Samara and Suraksha.
The evening ended with the resolve to continue the struggle for democratic rights in Chhattisgarh and outside.
Kavitha, Manohar, Siddharth, Shubha
C P Surendran
There is not much you can do these days without making a festival of. The Free-Binayak Sen campaign scheduled to peak out on May 14, when Dr Sen completes two years in Chhattisgarh Central Jail, is aiming to rally one million people on line. Activists must hope that a few zeroes on the right side of any number will translate to Sen’s freedom. If only democracy were a matter of ciphers.
Again, there is not much you can say about Binayak Sen that is not already in the public domain. Sen is a doctor who decided early on to work among the poor in Chhattisgarh. He is the General Secretary of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL). In which capacity he campaigned for the rights of those who were victimised by the State, the police and Salwa Judum.
Salwa Judum, for the novice, is a “people’s movement” funded and armed by the respective state government and aimed at resisting Naxal overtures. The resultant violence in Chhattisgarh has killed and mutilated thousands of humans.
Quite a few of those Sen helped turned out to be Naxals or Naxal sympathizers. This might be considered natural in a state where tribals and scheduled castes form nearly 50 per cent of the population. They own and occupy substantial amount of forest and mineral land. Since the State has failed in considerable parts of Chattisgarh, the leadership of tribals and scheduled castes for the present rests with Naxals, not with parliamentary parties.
The natural resources in question are in fact central to the understanding of Sen’s personal tragedy. There’s a regular tussle in Chattisgrah for the appropriation of the riches by corporate houses and the government on the one hand, and by the indigenous people led by Naxals on the other.
In short, Sen is a victim of a certain kind of development model which seems to represent the top 25 %t of the population. People like you and me. In India that 20 % translates to nearly 250 million people, and so the economy stays afloat on that critical mass. And land – whether setting up for plants or as a source of metals or minerals — as Ratan Tata would tell you is at the heart of India’s present and future unrest.
On May 14, 2007 Dr Sen was arrested under the Chhattisgarh Public Securities Act for collusion with Narayan Sanyal, a Maoist leader doing his time in the Central Jail. The authorities believe that Dr Sen was carrying letters –that furthered Naxalite activities in the state– from Sanyal to one business man Piush Guha, who too was later arrested and locked up in jail.
Technically, as in the case of Josef K in Kafka’s The Trial, the case against Dr Sen is flimsy. Dr Sen’s meetings with Sanyal took place in the presence of jail authorities. The opening lines of The Trial capture the essence of Sen’s situation as well: “Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K: he knew he had done nothing wrong, but, one morning he was arrested.” And since Dr Sen was arrested under CPSA the authorities are exempted from giving an explanation for their conduct in court or elsewhere.
It is unlikely that Dr Sen will be kept in prison for too long in the face of escalating legal and activist pressure. But the appalling reality is that these missing years of Dr Sen’s life have already taken a toll. His wife, Professor Ilina Sen is living an unreal life. Unreal in the sense that she never thought she would be spearheading a public campaign for Dr Sen’s release. “If someone told me the story of my life two years ago, I would have told him, no, that’s not me.”
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.
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Mumbai: May 14 will be two years since Dr Binayak Sen, arrested for his alleged links with Naxalites, was put into a Chattisgarh jail. His complaints of ill-health – his doctors have said he could have a heart attack any minute — have finally got the Supreme Court to ask the state government to provide him with proper health care. But the state has tried to impede the course of the case, says his family. Ilina Sen, Binayak’s wife, spoke to DNA on a recent visit to Mumbai.
How is Dr Sen’s health right now?
Binayak was diagnosed with angina in 2003-04. When he complained of chest pain in jail, we wanted an angiography done. But it took two and half months to get a court order just to have an ECG. In February, Binayak put in an application to go to Christian Medical College, Vellore, for treatment. A local specialist, Ashish Malhotra, said Binayak needed an angio. The police asked Dr Malhotra why he had recommended Vellore; wasn’t there any place in Raipur? So the doctor recommended some local places. Now the Public Prosecutor doubts that Binayak is really ill. Binayak has lost a lot of weight (almost 22 kg, say some reports). When we complained, we were told his weight is now correct. They doubt he has a heart condition and Dr Malhotra’s credentials, though he is Raipur’s best cardiologist.
Does Dr Sen want to go to Vellore because of a threat to his life?
If the police keep interfering with the treatment and with the doctor, how can you be really secure? How can you put your life in the hands of people when the police are breathing down their necks? As an old student of Vellore, Binayak has certain entitlements there.
Where is the case going?
It’s not going anywhere — 65 witnesses have deposed and nothing incriminating has come of it. Now only the police are left. We’ve applied for bail. Let’s wait and see.