Call to drop all charges against Binayak Sen: The Hindu

Aarti Dhar
15th May 2008

His detention is a vengeful act against a public spirited doctor, say intellectuals

Dr. Sen was arrested on May 14 last year for his alleged support to the Maoists

Rights activists want Chhattisgarh State Public Security Act scrapped

NEW DELHI: Intellectuals and artists across the country rallied behind jailed human rights activist Binayak Sen on the first anniversary of his arrest on Wednesday, even as they urged the Chhattisgarh government to drop all charges against him.

Binayak Sen was arrested on May 14 last on charges of treason and waging a war against the state and for his alleged support to the Maoists.

In a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister through his office in the Capital, the Committee for the Release of Dr. Binayak Sen said the detention of the rights activist under the Chhattisgarh State Public Security Act was a deliberate and revengeful act against a public-spirited doctor working for the poor that brought shame to the State government and the country. The charges were not backed by any evidence and the judicial process was initiated against him only to harass him and intimidate those working for human rights, the memorandum said.

The systematic portrayal of Dr. Sen as a “dangerous naxalite,” the denial of basic facilities in prison and the imposition of solitary confinement on him for three weeks earlier this year were a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

The misuse of the anti-terrorist legislation by the government against human rights activists to suppress the voice of dissenting opinion had become a threat to the people of Chhattisgarh and to Indian democracy, the memorandum said.

The arrest of independent filmmaker Ajay T.G. on May 5 on similar “flimsy and vague” charges exposed the government’s intention to gag human rights organisations and prevent all criticism of its policies and actions, the activists said. All charges against Dr. Sen and Ajay T.G must be dropped and compensation paid to them for the harassment and loss of liberty.

The activists also wanted the government to scrap the Chhattisgarh State Public Security Act, as it violated the basic principles of the Constitution, and end the ongoing ‘Salwa Judum’ campaign.

Writers and artists, during a dharna and a cultural show, voiced their protest. Manu Kohli, Nagin Tanvir, Mehmood Farooqui, Gauhar Raza, Arundhati Roy and Vishnu Nagar were among those who participated.

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