H C Singh

Life Imprisonment to Dr. Binayak Sen- Is This Justice?

 It is surprising that reputed doctor Binayak Sen, who went to Christian Medical College Vellore in Tamil Nadu to get a medical degree as he had urge from childhood to serve the needy and when he was 4 years old his mother felt that inborn desire and called Binayak “Karamyogi”. In early 1970’s CMC Vellore was considered the best Medical College all over India much ahead of AIIMS New Delhi. It was well known that only in Vellore CMC where there was eminent surgeon for open heart surgery could give new life to many. Thirty years back Binayak came back to fulfill the mission of his life and serve as Dr Binayak Sen. In those days if he wanted he could have practice in Kolkata itself and amass crores of rupees. But being a “Karamyogi” from childhood, he came to Chhattisgarh in 1981 to join Shankar Guha Nyogi with determination to serve Adivasis and poor in low cost hospitals and health programmes.

How such a dedicated Dr who later became Human Right Activist spent in jail 7 months without trial in 2007? Thereafter from 2007 to 2010 Dr Sen remained mostly in jail. A school teacher ILINA got impressed so much with Dr Sen’s selfless service to Adivasis that she married him in 1995. Along with Dr Sen she has suffered quietly but has always supported him and was proud of him.

During last 3 years from 2007 to 2010 and even in January 2011 he has been in and out of jail for unconfirmed links with Maoists. Dr Sen had been kept in maximum security cells as if he was a criminal who had indulged in and committed murders which means, in words of his wife Ilina Sen , “five solitary cells, cages really” when she met him in jail as he was allowed to meet visitors only relatives like his wife once in 15 days. Dr Sen was denied bail every time and spent more than two years in solitary confinement. According to so-called circumstantial evidence mostly manipulated by Chhattisgarh Police that Sen had met Guha and Sanyal who were close to Maoists. Narayan Sanyal was a suspected Maoist supporter believing in their ideology while Pijush Guha who owned a Bidi factory in Kolkata often visiting Chhattisgarh to get tendu leaves in bulk for his factory. Police considered these two, who are poles apart, as links between Dr Sen and Maoists.

However what bought havoc for Dr Sen was his report on police atrocities on Adivasis during which thousands of Adivasis were rendered homeless during Salwa Judum campaign in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh. Dr Sen in his report called it where the state makes war on its own people and called it as glaring example of “violation of people’s rights”. This report in 2007 led to Dr Sen’s arrest, considering it a proof of his links with Maoists in association with Sanyal and Guha. Even during search of Sen’s house, Mrs Sen who was eyewitness to the search says “The police got their own vediography done. And I took the permission to do another to make sure nothing was planted as evidence”. When D G Police Chhattisgarh was asked as to why Dr Sen was kept in jail for 7 months without evidence and without trial, he replied evasively “judicial custody some time lasts for even five years’. About his contact with Sanyal, Dr Sen made it clear that Sanyal’s family approached him to look after “ Sanyal’s health after he was brought to Raipur Jail in 2006.” The only eyewitness Police had was one Anil Kumar Singh, just a passer by who is said to have heard some Maoist dialogue between Dr Sen and Guha. Singh has since been untraceable.

After having spent two years in solitary confinement in jail, Dr Sen was released on bail in May 2009 as police could not find any evidence. But on December 24, 2010 he was for the first time convicted by justice B P Verma along with Sanyal and Guha. Judge Verma read in the court, “Therefore the accused are guilty of promoting Naxili- guilty of conspiracy to commit sedition.” This judgment broke down Dr Sen but within few days he regained himself when he heard from his devoted wife Ilina Sen that appeal had been filed against the judgment and there were wide spread protests in media in India and Abroad. As the conviction of Dr Sen, sentenced for life, does not appear to be just, there is hope that the higher court or Supreme Court of India will do justice to Dr Sen, his family.

It is apt to point out the case of Sibu Soren former CM of Chhattisgarh who was convicted of murders long back but has not been finally sentenced. The other case of Lalu Prasad Yadav who was known to be involved in Fodder scam of hundreds of crores of rupees but has not yet been convicted. The latest cases of injustice are of former CJI’s son-in-law who in 2006 showed only 1 crore of assets but on 13th January 2011 state government has ordered vigilance probe against him. The other horrible case of justice delayed or denied is that of charges of rape of a minor girl by BSP MLA Dwivedi and his associates, while the minor girl remained in jail for 33 days after BSP woke up to repeated protests and agreed to release the innocent minor remained in jail for 33 days as police refused to file as FIR. Dwivedi was arrested on 13-1-2011, rape victim on 15-1-2011. There are so many cases of injustice and imprisonment on the basics of circumstantial evidence. Supreme court of India, it is hoped, would take some urgent steps so that in future is not delayed or denied.

Conviction of Dr Sen, Sanyal and Guha was mainly based on Chhattisgarh special Public security Act of 2005 against Maoists and Naxalis but, it is not known, whether any Maoists supporter of Chhattisgarh was convicted for life imprisonment. Though Judge Verma (is yet awaiting confirmation in lower judiciary) his judgement convicting for others may be the first judgement convicting for sedition. In this context it is apt to mention that speeches and association of Arundhati Roy in favour of separatist of Kashmir and her repeatedly asserting that Kashmir is not a part of India has not been sentenced for sedition and has not spent a single day in jail or judicial custody.

In the Chhattisgarh High Court bail application of Dr Sen is being considered from 24-1-11. Eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani who is also challenging the validity of special Security Act of 2005 of Chhattisgarh, under which Dr Sen has been convicted. Next hearing of the case has been fixed for 8 Feb. It is hoped that learned judges of High Court/Supreme Court will consider 60 year old Dr Sen’s case with consideration so that he does not break down psychologically or physically.

January 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment