Sedition, Defamation and the 'People's Movement'

Not only has Dr. Binayak Sen been granted bail, he can even roam the Red areas. This is a bit weird, for he was charged with helping the Maoists based on literature he smuggled into prison and that was found at his house.

Many thought the arguments facile (my pieces are available here), but when Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who has led the battle against the Naxalites says, “I am happy to know Sen has got bail", one is forced to look at the flip side.

The Supreme Court pulled up the trial court for sentencing him to life imprisonment.

Are the courts so disparate in their judgments when the law books are the same? If he is allowed to visit Red areas then why do the security agencies then not take into account the exact nature of the involvement of those it shoots, putting its own people too at risk?

There have been many smiles around after the SC intervention, but I am not so chuffed about the larger issue. Does Sen’s temporary freedom mean that perhaps they will find more material to charge him with if he does go to those ‘Red’ places?

In a rather amusing analogy regarding the material found with Dr. Sen, the SC stated:

“These documents are available widely. These are general documents and could be available with anyone. How do you fasten sedition charge for this? If Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography is found in the house of a person, it will not make him a Gandhian.”

Of course, I do not buy into simplistic sedition charges, but what a silly comparison. In the hands of certain forces, those documents can mean different things. The presence of holy scriptures around might indicate that a person is religious. And to drive the point home, the law books do not mean every judgement is fair.

- - -

Swami Agnivesh clears the air about Anna Hazare’s pro-Modi stand with Mallika Sarabhai. Hazare himself sits in as guest editor of The Times of India and clears the air. I am sounding like a stuck record, but this is all about a huddled group.

Mr. Hazare can base his applause for Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar’s development work on media reports, but he wants evidence into Modi’s role in the post-Godhra riots:

“I have no proof of that.”
He said it would be tantamount to defaming someone, but reiterated he did not in any way support the riots. “I’ve read about the rural development work done by Nitish Kumar in Bihar and Modi, that is why I said these models seem to be working.”

“I have received emails contesting the record of the Gujarat government. If claims that Modi’s record is not good are true, I will withdraw my remarks.”

He has been defaming the entire Indian population because corruption cannot exist in a vacuum; he has defamed the Indian Republic. So, while sitting in the TOI office why did someone not whip out the proof that he wants? Not that it matters one bit how much he is concerned about communalism. That’s his problem. But then he should not start behaving like someone who can topple governments:

“If my fast had continued for three more days, the government would have fallen.”

Then why did he not continue since he knows that corruption will not just vanish? Would this not have been a good lesson? But, no. That would take up too much time from TV studio visits where he spews “folksy wisdom”. Sure, folksy wisdom discusses rural development projects and like some holy man he gives his blessings without knowing how the development has taken place and who it is benefitting. He will withdraw his remarks if the claims are not true. He might need proof of that as well.

And this is the man everyone is rallying around, a man who does not know about genocide and hundreds of people waiting in relief camps for compensation. There is corruption here too, in case he has a thing for a single-minded narrative or whatever they call it in folksy wisdom lingo.

I might add that my views about this ‘people’s movement’ are not based on his communal statements, which were made later. It is just that now I am looking at how the lust for power spares no one.

End note

Surfing channels I found a disgusting ‘spoof’ on CNN-IBN, and we will ignore the stupid “Isn’t Anna a woman?” jokes. When he is breaking his fast, we see a blue-turbaned Sikh bending to offer him lime juice and Hazare’s assistant shouting at him to bring some other goodies. It was in poor taste not because Manmohan Singh cannot be spoofed but because it is a bloody ignorant thought. No one has capitulated before Anna sahib. If anything, he is playing ball with everyone.

Incidentally, the media, especially the electronic media, should be the last one to applaud the fight against corruption. The sound of the Radia tapes has not yet died down. Or is this a nice little camouflage opportunity?

What are Anna Hazare’s views on lobbyists in the media who assist in corruption?


  1. Farzana,
    Appears that we are back in "discussion" again. Specifically on Dr. Binayak Sen topic.
    Several questions here.....
    Let me start with our Courts. Do we notice the wide disparity in interpretation of Dr. Sen's activities between the High-Court and Supreme Court ? If somebody were to scrutinise just the "disparity" it would hint at widely varying interpretation of a individual's Democratic Rights. In this context, one will feel compelled to question this wide variance of interpretation. How is this variance of interpretation being audited ? Would love to be educated by legal/constitutional experts (assuming some of them visit your blog) on this.
    Second point, what if "Maoism" were to go "mainstream" (as in - step out of their closette) in advocating a polity that is professing equitability on Sociao-Economic levels ? This question, while being essentially rhetorical, is a "tuanting poser" to the ultra-left for their closette political positions. Would love to hear from them as well.

  2. Hi Mahesh:

    How can we be in discussion mode when you want the POV of legal luminaries/ultra Leftists?

    Won't a mere writer/blogger do?!

    Anyhow, On point 1. we are asking similar questions.

    Point 2. Maoism is nto a closet movement, but they have never clearly expressed their socio/eco/pol agenda. Perhaps, it is the mainstream within a specific school of ideology. A governance system based on their thinking would, therefore, be limited to a small segment, which is how they might want it to be.

    The idea is to dissent a stratified form of establishment and make space for themselves rather than replace that establishment.

    The current ultra left thinking is, in a way, what the Maoists would become if they decided to become establishment.

    I said it anyway. Since most people choose to remain anon here, I would not know who is what. Maybe if we are lucky a Leftist in drag might just appear.

    PS: Are you Houdini?


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