By Muhammad Arifuddin Ilyas,
A person who fights for Human Rights and questions the Government policy will be sentenced to Life imprisonment. This is what the Law says. According to Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.” Same was the law (of sedition) that was used to convict Mahatma Gandhi during British Rule. After Independence, India had no other alternative to the British Constitution and happily, we inherited the British system.
Mahatma Gandhi of the present Era, I must say, Dr. Binayak Sen, a doctor by profession is a noted Human rights activist who has dedicated his life for a Cause. He worked for the tribal people of Chhattisgarh who are devoid of the basic amenities. On 24th Dec, the Sessions court of Raipur found him guilty of sedition and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
His only crime is that he raised his voice against the ‘Salwa Judum’, a private force armed by the Chhattisgarh government to take on the Tribals and Maoists, forcing them to leave their land to the big-shot Mining companies. Salwa Judum has committed many crimes, the list of which is endless; burnt houses, looted tribal’s property, raped women and killed people. Though government admits all of these crimes, not a single case has been registered against Salwa Judum, only because it is backed by the State government.
Dr. Sen fought for people who have been exploited over years, who are deprived of Education, Healthcare and resources needed to ensure their Sustainability. What they want is not ‘Development’ but protection of their ‘Land’ and basic amenities.
In spite of Dr. Sen’s statements that he neither condones the Naxalites nor approves of their violent method, speaking strongly against them several times, he gets falsely accused of sedition and conspiracy.
The evidence that was presented against Dr. Sen is:
• A post card dated 3 June 2006 written to Dr. Sen by Narayan Sanyal (while lodged at the Raipur Central Jail), regarding his health as well as legal case, which is duly signed by the Jail authorities carrying the Seal of the Jail Authorities
• A booklet “On the Unity between CPI (Peoples’ War) and Maoist Communist Centre” in Hindi
• A letter written by Madanlal Banjare (a member of the CPI-Maoist) from Jail addressed “Priya Comrade Binayak Sen”
• A photocopy of an article in English titled “Naxal Movement, Tribals and Women’s Movement”
• A hand written photocopied note “How to build an Anti-US Imperialist Front”
• Eight page article titled “Krantikari Janwadi Morcha (Revolutionary People’s Front) Vaishavikaran Awam Bahrtiye Seva Kshetra (Globalization and the Service Sector in India)
What is the reason of Dr. Sen’s life-time imprisonment? Is it because, he visited Narayan Sanyal in Jail 33 times? Is talking to a prisoner with prior Police permission a Crime? The post card written by Mr. Sanyal to Dr. Sen was duly signed by the Jail authorities. Mr. Sanyal was being treated by Dr. Sen for fibromatosis. Is treating a prisoner a Crime? Moreover, Mr. Sanyal was not jailed as a Naxalite, rather, he was accused of murder. Most importantly, all the meets of Dr. Sen with Mr. Sanyal was under strict supervision of Jail authorities. All that they talked was about Mr. Sanyal’s health and his case. When they never met alone, how is Dr. Sen accused of conspiracy?
Refuting to follow his party’s line in Chhattisgarh, Ram Jethmalani, eminent lawyer and BJP member says that “it is a case of low evidence”.
The Hard-to-believe Reality is that the Chhattisgarh government has signed hundreds of MOUs (Memorandums of Understanding) with many Mining companies and other MNCs. It is public that there have been many visits of American Ambassadors to Raipur and other cities of Chhattisgarh in the recent times. All of this suggests that Dr. Sen’s arrest is nothing but a Capitalist agenda in the disguise of ‘development’. As Arundhati Roy suggests, it isn’t Maoist corridor, rather, it must be called a ‘MOUist corridor’.
In this regard, India is no different to China. India and China may have differences in their Systems of Governance. But, they definitely don’t differ in turning down the Voices raised against the Government. When the Human Rights activist of China, Liu Xiaobo called for the end of Communist one-party rule in China, he was incarcerated as a Political Prisoner. Walking into the foot-steps of China, Indian Government too, ridiculed the “Right to Freedom of speech” by convicting Dr. Binayak Sen of being a conduit between the Naxalites. His is one such case of excesses on basic human rights of the citizens of India. NHRC receives thousands of such cases every year – Is anyone to heed?
It’s high time that we analyze our shortcomings, raise our voices for this cause and let the world hear it!! Cry out!!!!
(The writer is a Software Engineer by profession and hails from Hyderabad)