Posts Tagged ‘Shankar Guha Niyogi
Hindustan Times, January 03, 2011
by Praful Bidwai
The Raipur sessions court judgment against civil liberties defender and health activist Binayak Sen has provoked outrage. His two-year long detention had drawn protests from the world over. The only substantial charge against Sen is that he passed on three letters from Narayan Sanyal, an undertrial, suspected — but not yet proved — to be a Maoist, to the Maoist leadership.
It takes several leaps of imagination, or nasty prejudice, to pronounce that carrying three pieces of paper containing trivialities such as congratulating the CPI (Maoist) on completing its party congress, amounts to sedition. Sedition means spreading disaffection against the state. It was introduced into the Indian Penal Code by the colonial State to repress the freedom struggle and muzzle the freedom of expression.
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By systematically persecuting Dr Binayak Sen, a tireless champion of human rights and the rights of adivasis and workers, the Indian state is sending a strong message to civil society about the price of not toeing the line.
Raja bola raat hai,
mantri bola raat hai,
court bola raat hai,
ye subah subah ki baat hai!
(The king said it was night. The minister said it was night. The court said it was night. It was early morning!)
On 24 Dec 2010, the District Court in Raipur in Chhattisgarh state of central India sentenced Dr Binayak Sen to life imprisonment. Given the flimsy nature of the evidence, to most it came as a shock; to the Indian state seeking to silence dissenting human rights activists and social workers, it was shot in the arm.
Targeting Dr Binayak Sen, a well-known civil rights and public health activist, has wide implications for democracy and civil rights in India. Dr. Sen is the National Vice President of the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), one of the most respected civil liberties organizations in India founded by late Jaya Prakash Narayan during the 1975-77 internal Emergency, the worst era in the history of post-independence India. Dr Sen’s work in the area of public health is well known; in fact, he was a part of the group which set up the Mitanin rural health care system for Chhattisgarh twenty years ago when the state was still under formation. He is a man for whose bail, twenty two Nobel laureates had appealed. For whose release, the British House of Commons had issued a motion.
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Thirty years ago, in an act I still feel guilty about, I woke up a very great Indian from his sleep. I was volunteering at a conference in New Delhi, and had been asked to fetch the Member of Parliament from Dhanbad, AK Roy, from his quarters in Vithalbhai Patel House. Roy, a labour leader legendary for his integrity and his wide range of reading, had been elected from the mining town as an Independent, his campaign funds raised from the workers themselves. It was characteristic of the man (and perhaps also of the times) that instead of asking for a Lutyens’ bungalow or even a spacious flat on South Avenue, he settled on a single room in a tall, dark, unattractive building off Parliament Street.
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Q&A: Dr Binayak Sen, a doctor and an activist
Sreelatha Menon / New Delhi May 31, 2009, 0:20 IST
A military solution to Naxalism is neither possible nor desirable, Dr Binayak Sen, a doctor and an activist, tells SREELATHA MENON, after his release from two years of detention.
You were teaching in New Delhi and could have settled there. What drove you to Madhya Pradesh in the late 70s to practise among tribals? Were the health facilities there as bad as they are at present?
They were not as bad. But, they were similar. There has been no marked improvement as far as healthcare infrastructure or services to the poor are concerned. The Chhattisgarh government did an evaluation of the services by using the Caesarian section facilities in government hospitals as an index. Only three government facilities were equipped to carry out this operation in 2004. Very few health centres are equipped to investigate and treat communicable diseases.
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.
A shameful anniversary
India has never before witnessed such mobilisation of international and national support for a person imprisoned within its borders. Twentytwo Nobel laureates from different countries have issued spirited statements of protest against the continued detention of Dr Binayak Sen, a public health activist and civil liberties defender. International medical journals, including The Lancet and the British Medical Journal, have written strong editorials deploring his detention in Raipur, capital of the Central Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
Solidarity in the cause of securing his release has acquired the dimensions of a mass movement, with hundreds of people demonstrating or courting arrest in several cities across the globe every Monday. Health professionals, academics, human rights activists, artists, writers and film-makers have weighed in for Dr Sen’s release. Amnesty International has named him a Prisoner of Conscience.
Dozens of individuals have lobbied the government to free him. Legal fora all the way from a magistrate’s court in Raipur to the Supreme Court have been moved for his release. Public-spirited citizens who support Dr Sen have set up a remarkable website in solidarity with him (www.binayaksen.net). It receives an incredible 16,000 hits a day-more than the websites of many major newspapers.
And yet, never before has a government in India proved so thick-skinned and impervious to appeals made on behalf of such a person. Dr Sen was wrongly detained under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act 2005 (PSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2004. On May 14, he completed two years of his detention-a shameful anniversary if there ever was one.
The PSA is a nasty law, which criminalises even peaceful protest, by declaring it “a danger or menace to public order, peace and tranquillity”, because it might interfere with or “tends to interfere with the maintenance of public order [ or] the administration of law.” This extremely harsh preventive detention law makes nonsense even of the idea of civil disobedience, a cornerstone of India’s Freedom Struggle. It should have no place in a democracy. Yet, the state government has filed a 750-page chargesheet against Dr Sen under PSA and other laws.
Tuesday 12 May 2009
by: J. Sri Raman, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
On May 13, the world’s most populous democracy will complete its periodical, primary exercise in popular governance. On this date, India will complete its month-long, five-phase general election.
The very next day, however, will mark the second anniversary of the arrest of a medical missionary and human rights activist of India. The case of Binayak Sen will continue to illustrate the struggle in India, as elsewhere, for democracy beyond elections.
Binayak’s story has been told several times (including in my article, The Importance of Saving Binayak Sen, June 03, 2007) since the police took him away from his home on a tribal district in India’s central state of Chhattisgarh on May 14, 2007. The reputed doctor, with a widely recognized record in health care for some of the most helplessly wretched of the earth, has been denied bail repeatedly since then and treated as a dangerous criminal.
He has been detained under two draconian Indian laws – the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CPSA), placed on the statute book only in 2005, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Both these laws allow for arbitrary detention without any right to appeal. The string of charges against him includes sedition, criminal conspiracy, making war against the nation, and knowingly using the proceeds of terrorism.
The main case of the state government of Chhattisgarh, fully controlled by the far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), casts Binayak in the role of an accomplice to the Maoist insurgents active in the tribal territory. The case has been spiced up with the specific charge that he was acting as a messenger between the insurgents and a high-security, Maoist inmate of the Chhattisgarh prison, Narayan Sanyal. The charges have been repeatedly refuted.
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.
The Times Of India
27 Apr 2009, 0000 hrs IST,
May 14 this year will mark an ignominious date for Indian democracy the start of the third straight year of Binayak Sen’s incarceration in a Chhattisgarh jail. I wonder if there are words left to describe this travesty. What is left to say that has not been said?
On Binayak’s behalf, writers, poets, judges, lawyers, doctors, human rights workers and trade unionists have spoken out from across India and the globe. Former Supreme Court justice Krishna Iyer, former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, Noam Chomsky and 22 Nobel laureates are amongst the thousands who grace this impressive list, but so far it has all been to no avail.
For those who may not recall, let me set out a chronology. Binayak is a paeditrician, a gold medallist who eschewed a lucrative urban practice to work amongst the poorest in central India. When i met him in the mid-80s he had helped build a workers’ hospital for the Chhattisgarh Mines Workers’ Samiti led by the legendary Shankar Guha Niyogi. Niyogi and his team were not ordinary trade unionists but visionaries for whom a workers’ union went beyond wage struggles to health care, education, even cinema literacy and, of course, fighting the scourge of alcoholism that inevitably afflicts the unorganised. Niyogi was murdered in 1991.