It’s a new year, and Binayak Sen is still in prison

Binayak Sen’s appeal to the Supreme Court for bail was dismissed on December 10, 2007 (in one of those meaningless ironies, December 10th is of course, International Human Rights Day).

A doctor working in Chhattisgarh, Binayak was arrested on May 14th 2007. His crime? He visited and treated an ailing prisoner in Raipur Central Jail with the permission of the jail authorities. The prisoner is a Naxalite. So Dr Sen is assumed to be a terrorist conspiring to overthrow the state, so dangerous that he cannot be given bail.

When the Chhattisgarh High Court denied bail to Binayak, his wife Ilina Sen appealed to the Supreme Court. The date for the hearing of the bail petition was fixed for Monday, December 10 2007.

A Bench consisting of a senior and a junior judge was appointed to hear the appeal for bail. The initial junior judge was subsequently replaced by another. On December 8, the Chhattisgarh government invited the senior member of this Bench to Raipur as the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony of a Legal Aid Centre, and extended its hospitality to him till December 9 when the senior judge returned to New Delhi.

The very next day, the Bench dismissed Binayak Sen’s appeal for bail in just thirty-five minutes.

Subash Gatade had written about Binayak Sen here on kafila earlier, ten days after his arrest. It is now seven months and two weeks, and Binayak has lost 20 kilos in prison.

You can also read about Binayak here.

Binayak Sen’s friends, fellow activists and the medical community have been working at various levels to put pressure on authorities and to make Binayak Sen visible in different fora. Dr Sen’s alma mater, Christian Medical College, Vellore, has responded in strength.

But Binayak continues to be in prison, and his trial will begin soon.

“Maoists” are apparently the biggest threat to Indian democracy, not that other M.

Crush Maoists, is Manmohan Singh’s clarion call. Buddhadeb’s too, who sees mysterious Maoists lurking behind every villager in Nandigram, even though his state’s Home Secretary inconveniently revealed that no Maoist was arrested from Nandigram.

But the way the logic works is of course, the other way round – if we have arrested you, you must be Maoist/terrorist/whatever we say you are. I wonder if you remember the mythical “Sunita from Jehanabad”, whom I had written about earlier here on kafila.

Binayak, Ilina, Anasuyaji – stay strong.

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