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The need to enlarge protests around Binayak Sen to all cases of sedition – PUDR Statement

Posted by Admin on January 5, 2011

Jan 4, 2010

Dear friends and comrades,

The recent countrywide demonstrations against the unfair verdict in the Binayak Sen case have been really heartwarming. The demonstrations have brought many of us together, who feel enraged and upset over the judgment. Clearly, if our numbers continue to grow, we will soon be in a position of strength and will ensure the release of Binayak and many others.

The case against Binayak Sen has become a focal point to oppose the attempts by the state to criminalise civil rights activities. Yet, we strongly feel that in order to make the entire campaign into a success we have to enlarge the present focus from the individual, Binayak Sen, to include the co-accused, Piyush Guha and Narayan Sanyal, and also take into consideration the plight of others who are similarly imprisoned in unfair cases of sedition.

Consider the following : Piyush Guha, the supposed courier in this case, has never been granted bail. He lost his parents in the course of these three years but was not given the right to even attend to the last rites of his parents. Piyush was kept in illegal custody and tortured for five days and he was only produced when the Chhattisgarh PUCL issued a statement demanding his whereabouts. His family lost its breadwinner and his wife, Rupa Guha, has been carrying out a lone fight for three and half years. Our efforts in demanding the release of Binayak must include the release of Piyush Guha.

Narayan Sanyal, the other co-accused has been in jail for five years already. He is old and ailing and is suffering from a chronic and painful ailment, fibromatosis. Despite directives from the court, he has not received any serious medical treatment in prison.The argument that his being a Maoist ideologue is sufficient to keep him in prison for the rest of his life is unfair, cruel and undemocratic particularly since the other cases in which he has been arrested have nearly collapsed. As has been pointed out by many, the decision to charge him with sedition happened only after the police arrested Binayak Sen. Narayan Sanyal’s case (even his supposed role in the present one) is a fit case for us
to ask not only for his release but also to demand a repeal of the ban against CPI(Maoist).

Our campaign must focus on demanding the repeal of undemocratic ‘security’ legislations like UAPA, CSPSA etc or under unfair provisions of the IPC like ‘sedition’ (S 124 A) and ‘waging war’ (S 121 of IPC) . The most recent conviction of Asit Sengupta, editor ofthe well known journal, World to Win is most worrying. Sengupta was arrested by Chhattisgarh police (and illegally detained, of course!) in January 2008 and never granted bail. On the same day when Binayak, Piyush and Sanyal were given life imprisonment, the same day Asit Sengupta was convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment for his work as an editor and publisher by another Raipur court. Kopa Kunjam, activist of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (Dantewada) who was working to re-settle displaced Adivasis in Netra villa, has been implicated in a murder case. Nine activists, including Kartam Joga of Adivasi Mahasbha, campaigning against landgrab in Lohanmdiguda, (Bastar) have been accused of involvement in the attack on CRPF personnel. There are innumerable incidents of this nature which are taking place in Chattisgarh and elsewhere where joint operations are going on.

Friends, we need to fight together to ensure that :

1. The entire miscarriage of justice begun in 2007 should be rectified and all the victims should be unconditionally released and compensated for their unfair stay in jail.
2. Withdrawal of undemocratic ‘security’legislations like UAPA, CSPSA etc
3. Repeal of archaic and colonial provisions like sedition and waging war from the IPC
4. Improvement of facilities in jails, particularly medical treatment of prisoners

Harish Dhawan and Paramjeet Singh
(Secretaries PUDR)

One Response to “The need to enlarge protests around Binayak Sen to all cases of sedition – PUDR Statement”

  1. Green Red said

    So many demonstrations, letters written and all that after all worked out somewhat. now we’ve got hundreds of millions of other people’s matter resolved with this bloody imperialist/semi feudal souled regime of India some call Hindustan… read this article:
    The Kalkateh paper “TELEGRAPH” had written:

    – Of those for whom New Delhi is too far away
    POLITICS AND PLAY: Ramachandra Guha

    Chhattisgarh High Court

    Last week, the Supreme Court granted bail to Binayak Sen, the doctor and civil rights activist who had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Raipur on the charge of sedition. Sen was charged with being a Naxalite sympathizer, and of acting as a courier for the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The verdict of the lower court had been widely condemned. The proceedings were farcical; with no concrete evidence to press their charge, the government of Chhattisgarh argued by insinuation and innuendo, at one stage claiming that since the police had found no stethoscope in the house Sen was not a doctor but a Maoist. Even if the evidence had been rock-solid, the sentence was outrageous. In China, professedly a totalitarian country, the writer, Liu Xiaobo, had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for speaking out against the State. A court in democratic India had awarded a life sentence for the same transgression.

    In granting bail to Sen, the Supreme Court also commented adversely on the process by which he had been sentenced. The two judges hearing the appeal, Harjit Singh Bedi and Chandramauli Prasad, said that to have Maoist literature in one’s possession did not make one a Maoist. As they pointedly added, mere ownership of a copy of My Experiments with Truth did not make one a Gandhian.

    Reading the judgment, I was reminded of a visit I had made several years ago to a jail in Chhattisgarh. In May 2006, I was part of a team of independent citizens studying the fall-out of the civil war between Maoists and state-sponsored vigilantes known as Salwa Judum. Pulling out my notes of the trip, I find that it was on May 21, 2006 that I visited the Jagdalpur jail. Built in 1919, the prison had large, tiled, airy and well-lit rooms. The rooms were built around a courtyard; each room housed about 50 prisoners.

    Indian jails are known to be small, crowded, dark and filthy. This was an exception. So, perhaps, was the superintendent of the prison, who was a tall, thoughtful, compassionate man named Akhilesh Tomar. Tomar organized a weekly dance and music show for and by the prisoners. There were other diversions; as we walked around the jail, we saw men playing carom.

    The Jagdalpur jail had, at this time, 1,337 prisoners in all. On a board in the superintendent’s office, these were classified under different heads. 184 men and one woman were classed as being ‘Naxal Vaadi Baandhi’, that is, as being incarcerated in connection with the Naxalite or Maoist rebellion. Tomar hastened to add that the classification was very approximate. Those prisoners who came from Dantewada — the district that was at the epicentre of the civil war —were usually classified as ‘Naxalites’. The superintendent remarked that this did not mean that they were all Naxalites.

    After a tour of the prison, our group was allowed to talk, one-on-one, to some of the inmates. I had a conversation with a prisoner named Dabba Boomaiah. He was a soft-spoken Muria in his twenties, from a village named Bamanpur near Bhopalpatnam. He told me the story of how he now found himself in Jagdalpur jail. He had, he said, a job as a labourer on a lift irrigation project. One day, at work, he was passed by a road-building crew, who asked him the way to Bhopalpatnam police station. He escorted them there, but was then detained by the police. They began quizzing him about the presence of Naxalites in his village. Then they asked him to join the Salwa Judum. He said he couldn’t become a vigilante, since he had a wife, two small kids and a widowed mother to support. Thereupon they arrested him.

    It was now three months since Dabba Boomaiah took the road-building crew to Bhopalpatnam police station. After his arrest, he had been taken to Dantewada jail, from where he was shifted to Jagdalpur. He had not seen his wife and children since his arrest. When I asked why he hadn’t been in touch with his family, he answered that they had never even visited Dantewada town. How then could they come to Jagdalpur, which was many hours away? However, he was in touch with a lawyer, who would represent him in a court hearing, which was scheduled for the following week. At that hearing, Dabba Boomaiah hoped to get bail, and be permitted to rejoin the family.

    I do not know whether Dabba Boomaiah got bail, whether the charges against him were dropped, whether he is still in Jagdalpur prison or has been reunited with his wife and children. A friend who knows the region well tells me that hearings are often cancelled at the last minute, as the criminal court in Jagdalpur is short of staff. Besides, cases against alleged Naxalites demand extra security, and when this is not available the cases are postponed.

    There is always the possibility that Dabba Boomaiah was a consummately gifted actor. To me, he seemed merely to be another victim of the civil war in Dantewada. In the eyes of the Raipur sessions court, Sen’s ‘crime’ was that he had talked to Maoist prisoners and was alleged to have Maoist literature in his home. The guilt they presumed was by association and insinuation, for Sen was not himself a member of the Maoist party, nor had he committed acts of violence or otherwise broken the law. Association and insinuation had also landed Dabba Boomaiah in jail. His ‘crime’ was that he happened to live in a district that had seen intense Maoist activity, and where a suspicious and paranoid state government demanded that everyone take sides.

    From what one hears and knows, there are thousands of Dabba Boomaiahs languishing in the jails of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, thousands of adivasis innocent of all crimes except that of having made their home in districts where insurgents and the police are ranged against one another. Pace the Supreme Court judgment, these adivasis have not read Mao; indeed, have not even heard of Mao. But they live in areas where Maoists are active and influential; which makes them, in the eyes of what passes for the law in these tragic, troubled parts of India, Maoists themselves.

    When the judge in Raipur sentenced Binayak Sen to life imprisonment, the home minister said that he could always appeal to a higher court. Most victims of the civil war in Chhattisgarh, however, do not have such recourse. They are at the mercy of an arbitrary and often brutal police, and of lower courts shot through with corruption and subject to intimidation. For someone like Dabba Boomaiah, New Delhi is even more distant than Jagdalpur is to his family. The Supreme Court deserves three cheers for the relief it has granted Binayak Sen, but, pending the suffering of the ordinary adivasi in Maoist-infested areas, let us not raise three cheers for Indian democracy itself.

    – – – – –

    i wish refigh AZAD was here to tell us why they backed off so much t last. but then with every single drop of Azad blood fallen we have x number of the ruling class taken care of.

    in this guy’s book called something like RED SUN (Sudeep was his name?) this guy quoted Mazumdar saying thing like nobody’s deserved to be called revolutionary until s/he has gotten some blood on hir hand; is that a true saying and quotation from our great martyred teacher Mazumdar? I haven’t found yet when/where he had said this one.

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