Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Free Binayak Sen!

OUTRAGE and anger have greeted the jailing of a well-known Indian civil rights campaigner for helping the Naxalite rebel cause.

Writer Arundhati Roy and American academic cum activist Noam Chomsky are among those who have voiced support for the growing campaign.

Dr Binayak Sen was convicted of sedition under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and faces life in jail on what many see as false trumped-up charges.

Sify News reports that activists and civil society leaders staged a protest march in Kolkata to condemn the judgement, and said their protests would continue till Binayak Sen was released.

It quotes renowned actress and filmmaker Aparna Sen as saying: "We protest this because we feel we have very few workers who serve the poor as tirelessly as Binayak Sen.

"We feel it is a travesty of our democracy that a fine worker like Sen is incarcerated while we know there are many people who are cheats and who have robbed the country of thousands and thousands rupees of money are walking free on the streets today."

Renowned activist Medha Patkar called the judgment a political statement, says Sify.

"We must really stand up and fight. We condemn something that is not legal or a judicial judgment. It is political statement, that clearly expresses the content of constitution, the fundamental rights and also the freedom of expression," Patkar is reported to have said.

Raipur Sessions Court had held Dr Sen and three other people guilty of treason and waging war against the state. He has also been found guilty of sedition. He now faces life imprisonment.

Dr Sen was arrested in Chhattisgarh in 2007 and was granted bail two years later. He was honoured with Jonathan Mann award in 2008, while he was still in prison.

The 58-year-old paediatrician and public health physician with a 25-year record of providing health care to the Adivasi people of Chhattisgarh.

A graduate of Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, Binayak Sen was one of the top students of his batch. He completed his post graduation in paediatrics in the early 1970s.

For most of the years since then, he has devoted his life to health care of the poor.