Posts Tagged ‘Press Reports
The Times of India 27 December 2010
The life sentence imposed on globally acclaimed human rights activist Binayak Sen on the charge of sedition is easily the most scandalous abuse of a colonial remnant in independent India. Judging by the intensity of civil society’s outrage, the verdict by a trial court from Chhattisgarh might provide impetus for a fresh review of the arbitrary manner in which this provision continues to be invoked to gag dissenting voices.
‘The evidence produced against Sen is unconvincing.’
The conviction of celebrated human rights activist Binayak Sen for treason by the Raipur sessions court on Friday has raised question about the country’s system of justice. Sen, along with two others, has been awarded a harsh life sentence for allegedly aiding and abetting Maoist activities. But the evidence produced against Sen is very unconvincing and there are strong reasons to believe that it was manufactured or doctored to implicate him in a false case. He has been hounded and persecuted by the police and the authorities in Chhattisgarh for long and has suffered much for his commitment to the welfare of poor tribals in the state. He was even denied the normal right of bail after he was arrested in 2006 and it was after spending nearly two years in jail that he won freedom at the intervention of the supreme court.
Compiled by Shalini
A smattering of different news articles below. Everyone expresses happiness at Binayak’s bail, except Raman Singh–who expresses only philosopshy. The family is thrilled that the the 2 year ordeal is over … but the CPI reminds that the case against Binayak still stands–and asks for the charges to be dropped. PUCL -UP also reiterates our other demands around repealing the draconian CSPSA, and an end to Salwa Judum (see Bobby Ramakant’s article below). Mary Ganguli tells us that the who’s who of Delhi lawyers showed up at the hearing yesterday (no wonder the judges were cowed into producing a decent judgment in one minute’s time). The IE has a nice photo … and the WSJ mentions number of people dead in Naxalite violence, as if it has some relevance to the issue at hand!
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HYDERABAD: The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) State committee has demanded that Chhattisgarh State government release Binayak Sen who was arrested two years ago by the police under the provisions of the Special Public Security Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for suspected nexus with Maoists.According to PUCL leaders, Binayak Sen, 58, is a paediatrician who has been serving the public for 25 years. He has always opposed Maoist violence. He was the general secretary of the State unit of the PUCL and later became its national vice president. He was also in the advisory committee of the Chhattisgarh health department.Addressing a news conference here today, PUCL general secretary Jaya Vindhyala demanded immediate release of Sen and restoration of human rights in the State. She also demanded that the AP government drop all charges against revolutionary writer Gadar besides releasing the prisoners who completed 7 years of sentence, as per a GO. PUCL State unit leaders Keshawarao Jadav, Iqbal Khan and Vittal Rao were among those present.
Protesters, who came from across Britain, demand his release from Chhattisgarh jail
— Photo: AFP
GLOBAL OUTRAGE: A demonstration outside the Indian High Commission in London on Thursday calling for the release of rights activist Binayak Sen, who is being held in a jail in Chhattisgarh on charges of assisting Maoists.
LONDON: A large group of academics, doctors and rights campaigners held a protest outside the Indian High Commission here on Thursday demanding the release of human rights activist Binayak Sen.
Mr. Sen has been languishing in a Chhattisgarh jail for two years over his alleged links with Maoist groups.
The protesters, who came from across Britain, carried placards calling for withdrawal of “false charges” against Dr. Sen and raised slogans such as “Indian democracy shame, shame.”
A petition urging Home Minister P. Chidambaram to intervene was given to the High Commission, according to a spokesperson of the South Asia Solidarity Group which organised the protest with the Indian Workers’ Association and “Release Binayak Sen Now Campaign” to coincide with the second anniversary of Dr. Sen’s incarceration.
Meanwhile, more British MPs put their names to an Early Day Parliamentary motion expressing concern over the continued detention of Dr. Sen and demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention.
The motion called Dr. Sen’s imprisonment a “grave case of violation of human rights,” and alleged that he was being held on “politically-motivated and trumped-up charges.”
Fair trial denied
Rights campaigners said that Dr. Sen, who was awarded the 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, had been denied a fair trial.
In a statement they denounced his arrest as an attempt to “silence peaceful dissent by imprisoning lawful humanitarian activists on charges of terrorism.”
Brother makes an impassionate appeal
Mumbai Special Correspondent reports:
On the second anniversary of activist and public health professional Binayak Sen’s arrest, his brother Dipankar Sen said he was looking for answers for the arrest of Dr. Sen and he had done nothing wrong to justify that kind of treatment.
Speaking at a public meeting in Mumbai on Thursday to demand the release of Dr. Sen, Mr. Dipankar Sen, who lives in Belgium, said that he was not involved in the politics of the region but just a few days before his brother’s arrest on May 14, 2007, he called him and asked him not to go back to Chhattisgarh. Dr. Sen was adamant.
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.
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New Delhi, May 14 : Hundreds of social activists joined by Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar today demanded the immediate release of human rights activist Binayak Sen on medical grounds.
The activists protested awarding of two years imprisonment to Sen on charges of sedition and waging war against Chhattisgarh state through art and music.
Sachar said he felt “embarrassed to say that he belonged to the judiciary which once played a key role in sending Binayak Sen behind bars two years ago”.
The former Chief Justice also took exception of Sen being called a Naxalite. “Government is playing with his health and if any untoward incident happens then we will have no limits in retaliation,” Sachar said.
The activists also demanded that Sen be provided proper treatment and immediate revocation of charges against hundreds of others who have been charged under various sections of the IPC and Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005.
Home > Economy & Policy
Sreelatha Menon / New Delhi May 14, 2009, 1:42 IST
Civil rights activist Binayak Sen will complete two years in jail on May 14 as an undertrial on charges of assisting Naxals in Chhattisgarh even as demands for his release are getting louder and stronger, within and outside the country.
This includes nationwide demonstrations on May 14, a motion tabled in the UK’s Parliament, an editorial and at least two articles on Sen’s detention in British medical journal Lancet decrying India’s human rights record, and a recent critique of the trial by Amnesty International, besides calls from the likes of Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art of Living to release him.
“A distinguished Indian paediatrician and a tireless human rights activist has been imprisoned in a Raipur jail in the state of Chhattisgarh, India. He has been convicted of no crime but is being held under draconian state laws for his alleged association with the Naxalites — an outlawed Indian communist movement, deemed to be a threat to national security. To date, there is no proof of his involvement in extremist activities but he remains incarcerated…” reads the Lancet editorial.
The Guardian, the British newspaper, carried a statement with signatures of scores of academics criticising the detention of Sen recently when the G20 summit was on in London.
The international attention that Sen is drawing sitting in his cell in the Raipur jail is also thanks to at least four awards that have been bestowed on him ever since he was arrested, beginning with the Jonathan Mann prize of the US.
A campaign to release him is holding a demonstration at the Indian High Commission in the UK on May 14 and will be handing in a petition demanding his release, on bail, among other demands.
“A motion was tabled and a number of Parliamentarians have expressed their support to our campaign,” says a leader of the campaign in the UK. The protest before the high commissioner’s office is expected to take the message home to the Indian government, feels Dwijen Ranganekar, one of the leaders of the campaign from the UK.
The protest is organised under the banner of the Release Binayak Sen Now (UK) group — a mix of health practitioners, academics and organisations. “We liaise with a variety of community groups, South Asia solidarity groups, Amnesty International and other human rights group,” says Ranganekar.
In India, the medico friends circle has taken up the issue in every part of the country. Activists like Mira Shiva and Sabu George, who were earlier engaged in issues like patent rights of Indian seeds and sex pre-determination, respectively, have temporarily gone slow on their pet issues for the last one year to devote themselves totally to the ‘Release Sen’ campaign.
In fact, almost every campaign in town whether it is on food rights, land rights, or child rights, most of them have a foot in the Binayak Sen campaign.
Sen himself is fighting a battle against the state seeking transfer to a hospital in Vellore for treatment for heart disease.
The Supreme Court, which had dismissed the previous petition seeking his release, has admitted the petition filed last month and has also issued a notice to the state government asking it to reply why Sen was not being given bail.
Says Patnaik: “The reason why the petition had to be admitted this time was that all witnesses whom Sen could have influenced have already given their statements and there is no reason why Sen should continue to be detained.”
Veteran lawyer and former Union minister Ram Jethmalani has agreed to fight the case of Sen free of cost, says Patnaik.
Whether or not the international protests have any impact on the case of Sen’s detention, the Chhattisgarh government’s reply to the Supreme Court is likely to take the case further in the coming days.
However, Sen’s wife Ilina Sen likes to keep her fingers crossed. “Nothing has happened so far. So, we are just doing what we are supposed to do without thinking much about the consequences,” she says.
Purushottaman Mulloli another public health activist based in Delhi however feels that Sen has ceased to be an issue. ”It has become a cause which everyone wants to be associated with and which everyone would love to keep alive,’’ a view which may not have much acceptance among civil society groups.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the Chhattisgarh government on a bail plea by rights activist Binayak Sen, held in a Raipur jail on charges of subversion and waging war against the state.
While issuing notice to the state government, a bench of Justice D.K. Jain and B.S. Reddy also asked it to provide “best medical aid” to Sen, who is suffering from a heart ailment.
The bench issued notice to the state government after former law minister Ram Jethmalani argued that “the case against Sen had been demolished and all the material witnesses have been examined”.
He added that the high court was not entertaining Sen’s bail application despite the law of the land providing for bail in such cases.
The state government was asked to file its reply within two weeks.
Sen has been in jail for the last 22 months for his alleged Maoist links. He was arrested May 14, 2007 under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA). The Chhattisgarh High Court had rejected his bail plea.
NEW DELHI: This is a country where the law clearly protects the rich and famous and comes down heavily, very often unfairly, on the poor and powerless.
For all those listening / watching aghast at how low our politicians can sink – e.g. Varun Gandhi’s vituperative attack against the Muslim community in an election address in Pilibhit from where he will contest on the BJP ticket – they always knew deep down that nothing would come of it. The interim anticipatory bail granted to him on Friday is on those very predictable lines.
The scion of Sanjay Gandhi will grow from strength to strength in an age which hails ‘khalnayaks’ who indulge in communally divisive politics .For them there is no Model Code of Conduct but a Model Code of Self Seeking Hate Politics. The BJP will not take away their symbol from Varun .Nor will the law of the land really move against him and keep him from contesting the election. And getting a bail will be child’s play for a person as influential as Varun Gandhi.
Contrast this with another case playing out in far off Raipur in Chattisgarh. The case of Dr. Binayak Sen , a good doctor who worked tirelessly to provide health care to the poor and who has been languishing in jail for nearly two years now . The charges slapped against him were that of having sympathetic links with Naxalites and allegedly being a courier between a jailed Naxalite he was treating and a businessman.
While the Raipur Sessions court rejected his bail application in July 2007, the Chattisgarh High Court denied bail twice, first in July 2007 and again in December 2008.
Countless media reports and organizations fighting for his release have pointed out that although Dr Binayak Sen has been arrested on charges under the controversial Chattisgarh State Public Security Act, none of the over 80 witnesses produced in his trial so far at a sessions court in Raipur have been able to substantiate any of these charges.
So far the Chhattisgarh government and its police have also not been able to provide any proof of his involvement in extremist activities.
Yet the barefoot doctor, whose life’s mission was to heal those who had been left out of the state’s medical radar, has been denied bail and left to rot in jail for 22 months. What is worse his health has been fast deteriorating and appeals for justice have fallen on deaf ears.
In the days and months following his incarceration there has been an international and national demand for the release of Dr Binayak Sen. As many as 22 Nobel Laureates signed a petition in support of his immediate release terming his arrest a travesty of justice. But it has failed to move either the BJP government in the state or the UPA government at the Centre.
On March 16, 50 activists of the national campaign for the release of Dr. Binayak Sen, marched to the jail in Raipur in a ‘jail bharo’ agitation to highlight the case.The Raipur Satyagraha was led by well-known social worker and Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey and include eminent persons like documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan and members of various civil society groups, civil rights organisations, trade unions, lawyers, journalists, medical professionals and women’s groups.
The satyagraha will be held every Monday in front of the jail in Raipur where Dr Binayak Sen is incarcerated. They are demanding that the Chattisgarh government should stop opposing the grant of bail to Dr Sen. Denial of bail should not be used as a punitive measure as this goes against the spirit of the entire justice system and constitutional rights, they stress.
In a bid to win over high profile judicial support in favour of Sen, there is now a petition going around with former Supreme Court and High Court judges. Eminent former Supreme Court Judge V R Krishna Iyer has already put his weight behind the petition along with six others.
Clearly the law as it plays out for Varun Gandhi and Dr Binayak Sen smacks of one land-two laws.