Four months and counting: Binayak Sen awaits justice

By Sujeet Kumar, IANS

Raipur : The national media may be crying foul about the continuing detention of prominent rights activist Binayak Sen since May 14 for his alleged Maoist links, but the Chhattisgarh administration is showing no signs of relenting.

Support TwoCircles

Sen, a paediatrician by profession and vice president of rights group People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), was picked up by police in Bilaspur city for his alleged links with Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal.

Though the apex court has now admitted Sen’s bail application and served a notice on the Chhattisgarh government, police have only tightened the noose around him. In August, a chargesheet was filed against him before the chief judicial magistrate here.

“There is no substance in the chargesheet. This is grave injustice to Sen and us, his family. He was targeted because he was critical of the Salwa Judum,” his wife Ilina Sen told IANS. Salwa Judum is a government-backed people’s militia that takes on the Maoists.

“My husband is innocent and he was purely engaged in human rights activities and providing medical care to the needy,” Ilina Sen said, adding “he needs a fair trial, we will fight till justice is delivered”.

But Sen has so far been unable to get bail. He has been held under the stringent Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005 (CSPSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

He has been in the Raipur central jail since his arrest. His bail application was first rejected by the sessions court that is hearing his case and then the Bilaspur-based Chhattisgarh High Court.

But with the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government unfazed, police say a massive media campaign is on against it to get Sen out.

“Almost every day articles are appearing in the national and international media that police here have crossed all limits by arresting PUCL national vice president Sen, thereby crushing human rights,” a senior police officer said.

“We are happy at least the media in Chhattisgarh are not going mad for Sen by joining the cry of newspapers in Delhi, Pakistan, South Korea and even the Western media that a human rights champion has been trapped by police on charges of acting as a courier for Narayan Sanyal whom Sen met at least 33 times in jail in Raipur, of course, with the prior permission of police,” the officer stated.

Claiming that police have clinching evidence against Sen for his close association with Maoists, the officer said police will not succumb to the media or to rights activists and will ensure Sen “gets the right treatment of law”.

But another senior police officer said the “media campaign against state police and the government regarding Sen’s arrest has made some difference as police have now stayed away from arresting many other rights activists and journalists who act as spokespersons for the rebels”.

Sen has the backup of the PUCL and a majority of rights activists in India who have kept up the pressure on the Chhattisgarh government and state police, accusing them of “framing Sen”.

Chhattisgarh PUCL president Rajendra Sail, who is leading a peaceful campaign against Sen’s arrest here, said: “The illegal detention of Sen under two repressive laws is politically motivated and an attempt to discredit human rights organisations like the PUCL.

“The PUCL has been carrying out a concerted campaign against these black laws, fake encounters, Salwa Judum and the complicity of politicians and police officials in committing crimes against humanity.

“The government has no evidence against Sen or else we challenge them to bring charges against him under the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr PC) and not hide behind the black laws,” Sail said.