Indian Express- Series on Binayak Sen

The Indian Express has published a 3-part series examining the case
against Binayak Sen, and also an editorial “No Bailouts” where it
concludes that “the many troubling aspects of the [Binayak Sen] case
indicate the possibility of miscarriage of justice on a colossal
scale.”

Excerpt: The sheer length of Sen’s incarceration without bail is
significant. To compare: Sanjeev Nanda, prime accused in the BMW
hit-and-run case, was given bail just four months after being
arrested. Another eventual convict, Vikas Yadav — accused of shooting
model Jessica Lall in full public view — not only got anticipatory
bail, but after a brief four months in jail, was free on bail. Yet
Sen, accused with evidence that is fast unravelling, has spent the
last 19 months in jail.

Excerpt: The government alleges that Sen visited Naxalite Narayan
Sanyal 33 times in jail, where Sen falsely posed as Sanyal’s relative.
In a bid to discredit this, Sen’s wife Ilina filed a Right to
Information application to access the jail records. The records,
available with The Indian Express, show that Sen, far from posing as
Sanyal’s relative, applied for jail visits using human rights group
PUCL’s stationery, where Sen worked as Chhattisgarh general secretary.

Excerpt: Sen has been booked under the Chhattisgarh Special Public
Safety Act — the most controversial of the state Government’s
anti-Naxal measures. The law makes illegal a wide variety of actions
that “support” unlawful activities: taking part in meetings, receiving
or soliciting contributions, harbouring a Naxalite, or planning to
commit an illegal activity.


Antara Dev Sen


Excerpt: What is common between the Satyam fiasco, the Centre’s renewed interest in the Gujarat terror law (Gujarat Control of Organised Crime or GUJCOC), Binayak Sen completing 19 months in jail without bail, Amar Singh’s tape on Mayawati’s fund gathering, our hesitation over a proper trial for Pakistani terrorist Kasab, the disappearance of the witness who saw the terrorists land in Mumbai on November 26 and the killing of a Dalit child as her mother is beaten up by upper caste men for drawing water from a common tubewell? Yes, these are all recent headlines. And they reflect the various faces of our spectacular failures of governance.


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Look at Dr Binayak Sen’s imprisonment. He was arrested for associating with Naxalites, which of course he did, since he is a social worker, human rights activist and doctor. He visited an elderly Naxalite in jail, with official permission. It was in keeping with his fantastic work with the underprivileged in Chhattisgarh, whom government does not reach. So he was jailed for the crime of association 19 months ago and in spite of international pressure from human rights groups, doctors, intellectuals and Nobel Laureates, in spite of several high profile politicians — including home minister P. Chidambaram and former chief minister of Chhattisgarh Ajit Jogi — being sympathetic to him, in spite of former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee announcing that Dr Sen’s long confinement was illegal, he remains in jail. So is Chhattisgarh not a part of India? Are we really living in feudal pockets of lawlessness where only the state government has a say, just because law and order is a state subject? When our democracy cannot prevent such flagrant violations of democratic rights, when we cannot coordinate between agencies to protect citizens, how on earth are we to fight the external enemy?


For a robustly functional democracy is the only dependable check on terrorism. Citizens who are not terrorised by the state, who have access to the democratic process and actually participate in running the nation, citizens who can respect a functional, fair and speedy justice system, who have faith in the administration and trust the good intentions of the state, these citizens are the biggest weapons against terror. Especially in a country of 1.1 billion. Not laws that crush democratic freedoms and bundle innocents in jail. Nor laws that will never be implemented. Not new fangled posturing by a state that is fast losing its moral legitimacy by routinely denying basic democratic rights to its people.

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