Life of and for Comrade Binayak Sen

Dr. Binayak Sen has been awarded a life sentence. There is no evidence to nail him down. I will not go into the details of this case that will stand up for scrutiny only in a banana republic, not in a democracy.

The war against the state is a convenient ploy. Dr. Sen, an award winning doctor and national vice-president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) was arrested in Bilaspur on May 14, 2007. He has been behind bars ever since. And it was not a fashionable ‘statement’ arrest.

His crime is that he passed letters to the Maoist ideologue, Narayan Sanyal. Together with a young businessman, Piyush Guha, they are seen as a triumvirate. The letters were apparently to “establish an urban network of the banned extremist group CPI (Maoist)”.

The charges are drawn from the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005, and the IPC for conspiracy for war against the state and treason, apart from being the accused as members of a banned organisation.

Let us go along for a minute with the charges. What war has been fought against the state due to the efforts of Dr. Sen? How many politicians are arrested for creating wars within their own states? What is treason here? To speak out, to believe that a people have the right to seek a space? The moot point is: have they got it? As regards being members of a banned organisation, may I know how it is possible when an organisation that is banned becomes irrelevant, a persona non grata, so to speak? Therefore, his being a part of it is a non sequiter.

Apparently, the prosecution has problems with him being addressed as ‘Comrade’ in two postcards. “Comrade usi ko kahaa jaata hai jo Maowadi hai,” (Only a Maoist is called comrade) said prosecutor Pandya who is probably a comrade-in-arms with the state machinery and a whole ideology based on idiocy. If you refer to someone as 'Bhai', does it mean the person is an underworld don? Communist leaders still use the term comrade. Even so, he has every right to be a Maoist, just as people can be Bajrang Dali or Jamaatis; at least he is not using obfuscation.

How do you imagine Dr. Binayak Sen is linked to international terror groups? The sessions court in Chhattisgarh said that his wife Ilina was corresponding with Pakistan’s ISI based on some letters written by her to “some Fernandes of the ISI”.

Here is the report from the TOI:

The email said: “There is a chimpanzee in the White House.” Pandya said: “This may be code language... this perhaps means terrorists are annoyed with the US... We do not know who this Fernandes is, but ISI, as we all know, means Pakistan.”

TOI spoke to Walter Fernandes, currently director of the North Eastern Social Research Institute in Guwahati. “Ilina and I are good friends and we frequently exchanged correspondence on development-induced displacement among tribals, which has been my subject for the last 20 years,” he said. He described the prosecution’s attempt to interpret ISI (Indian Social Institute) as Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence wing and link it to Binayak Sen as “either ignorance or bad will”.

I am currently writing about Indian Stupid Insecurity (ISI). The imagination of the prosecution aside, I have issues with the use of ‘perhaps’ in a case of this nature, that involves the life of a person and the life of civil liberties. The prosecution is supposed to verify its claims before charging a person. If it is a code word, then decode it; if it is terror groups, snoop around and check the IP address. We don’t live in the stone age that this is not possible.

There will be an appeal against this judgement. But, it is a sad state of affairs when after 1000 pages of the charge-sheet, the Indian courts come out the worse for the wear. There is nothing that reveals that Comrade Binayak Sen has betrayed the country. The judiciary has.

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Updated here

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