(The author is a World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General’s WNTD Awardee 2008 and writes extensively on health and development through Citizen News Service (CNS). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)
Dr Binayak Sen, a medical practitioner and a civil liberties' activist, has been sentenced to life imprisonment in Chhattisgarh. Amnesty International calls him a 'prisoner of conscience' because he never advocated violence and was a champion of human rights causes in the state but was unduly targeted by the state. Probably his stand for human rights exposing gross injustices meted out to tribal population by the state, and a report had irked the government which slapped upon him violation of two draconian laws: Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
His wife Ilina Sen, who is a Professor at the Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hind
Binayak Sen has been convicted of sedition and of violating sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Chhattisgarh Special Public security Act and sentenced along with two others to rigorous life imprisonment. His application for suspension of sentence and release on bail pending appeal, has been rejected by the Chhattisgarh High court. His jail ticket notes his provisional date of release as 2028.
"The conviction has followed an unfair prosecution and prejudiced judgment based on confessional statement recorded, according to the judge, during 'preliminary investigation' before the first accused in the case was taken into police custody, thereby defeating the provision of inadmissibility of custodial confessions. In the absence of any visible crime, this first arrest and the so called 'preliminary investigation' become the 'incident' around which the case is woven. The charges framed are equally vague regarding nature, time and place of the 'crime'. Extensive and expensive police investigations (sadly beyond the orbit of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005) into Binayak's (and Ilina's) homes, places of work and associates failed to provide any evidence other than social service in remote rural areas, and obviously was not brought on record" said Ilina Sen.
"The case against Binayak hinged upon his 33 meetings with jailed Maoist leader Narayan Sanyal, his supposed couriering of Sanyal’s letters and their passing on to Pijush Guha, through which letters, the death and destruction being carried out by the Maoists was supposedly given effect. Since the prosecution failed to produce even a single jail official or any other eye witness testifying to any letter or message, oral or written, being passed by Narayan Sanyal to Binayak Sen in their jail meetings, the verdict makes much fuss about certain entries in jail registers referring to Sen being Sanyal's relative, ignoring the defence contention that these entries were filled in by the jail officials, and not by either the visited or visitor, as apparent from the face of the record" said Ilina Sen.
On the contrary, all the applications Binayak Sen submitted to the jail officials, requesting a meeting with Sanyal, were written on the letterhead of his organization People's Union for Civil Liberties - PUCL (a Civil Liberties and Democratic Rights organization founded by leading Sarvodaya leader Jayprakash Narayan). These visits were duly permitted by the jail officials and transpired in their full view and hearing. "Binayak's own statement to the court gives a perfectly rational explanation for these visits and the way in which his intervention was essential in facilitating the hand surgery of Narayan Sanyal at the Raipur Medical College,, but this was not taken into account" said Ilina Sen.
"Binayak is also supposed to have had prior acquaintance with Sanyal and facilitated the hiring of a house by him. This is based on the testimony of a landlord who, while testifying to this fact also alleges that Sanayal was arrested from his house, which is contrary to the facts brought on record during this trial. Sanyal's arrest was in Andhra Pradesh according to the testimony of the arresting officer, and how a witness who perjures himself in one part of his testimony becomes a reliable witness for the other part, beats imagination" said Ilina Sen.
So what is the 'evidence' against Dr Binayak Sen? According to Ilina Sen, the 'evidence' against Binayak Sen in court is as follows:
- Hearsay evidence from police officers about Binayak's presence in naxal meetings, his supposed association with 'hard core naxals' who are not even named in any case anywhere in the country
- Supposed seditious literature pertaining to resistance of US imperialism and atrocities committed during the salwa judum
World Sleep Day is held every year on March 18th, with a view to raise awareness about the merits of sleeping well for a healthy life. The theme for this year (2011)
Close on the heels of International Women\'s Day 2011, comes the news of a path breaking research which puts the onus of a healthy generation on women. The research,
According to the study done by Tuberculosis Research Centre in India alarming numbers of women with tuberculosis (TB) become homeless once diagnosed with TB. At a me