ABVP protests against Jethmalani, EU observers


Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh): Security was beefed up around the Chhattisgarh High Court here Monday after Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) cadres demonstrated against senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani and an eight-member European Union (EU) team which was here to attend rights activist Binayak Sen’s bail plea hearing.

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As news spread that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Jethmalani was arriving here to appear for Sen, whose bail hearing is scheduled for later in the day, dozens of ABVP cadres reached a road leading to the high court building.

They raised black flags and also shouted slogans against the EU delegation that is expected to attend the court hearing. ABVP cadres shouted slogans like “Jethmalani go back” and “Jethmalani murdabad”.

The protests forced the authorities to deploy police reinforcements in and around the high court which is about 110 km from state capital Raipur.

The EU delegation members, who landed Sunday night in state capital Raipur amid protests of “go back” by some local groups, left for Bilaspur town Monday by car to attend Sen’s hearing that will be taken up by a division bench.

Sen, 60, who is a People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) leader, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a district and sessions court in Raipur Dec 24 on sedition charges and his links with Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal. The court verdict has been widely slammed by human right activists in India and abroad who say he was victimised by the Chhattisgarh government for highlighting human right abuses.

In Raipur, Ram Sewak Paikra, president of the BJP in Chhattisgarh where the party has been in power since December 2003, said: “Foreign observers have no role to play in Sen’s case, their arrival here is a direct interference in the Indian judiciary system.

“It has never happened in India that foreign observers attended court to monitor a case, it must be condemned in the strongest terms.”