At 10.45 a.m. on May 1, 2007 Pijush Guha checked into the Mahindra Hotel here and vanished. The hotel register indicates that he checked out at 8.45 p.m. the same day but no one knows where he went, who he met or what he did till 4.10 p.m. on May 6, 2007, when Anil Kumar Singh claimed he saw town inspector B.S. Jagrit detain Mr. Guha near the Raipur railway station.
According to Mr. Singh’s court testimony, the police searched Mr. Guha’s black and blue shoulder bag and found pamphlets supporting the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), a mobile phone, a rail ticket dated May 6, 2007, Rs. 49,0000 in cash and three letters which, Mr. Guha said, were written by the jailed Narayan Sanyal, an alleged Maoist, and handed over to him by physician and human rights activist, Binayak Sen. Mr. Jagrit claimed he made the arrest on the basis of information received on his wireless set but did not know where Mr. Guha had been during the five days prior to his arrest. Continue reading The Merchant of Murshidabad→
One of the issues that the Binayak Sen trial has revealed is the quality of the investigative process in the case and the nonchalance with which the police has flouted even routine guidelines, safeguards and rules.
“email referring to an occupant of the White House as a “chimpanzee” was introduced by the prosecutor as evidence of the kind of “code language” terrorists resort to. But tragically, it is the Chhattisgarh police that have had the last laugh in this round.”
On Christmas Eve, the Raipur Sessions court delivered a surprisingly harsh sentence in the case of The State of Chhattisgarh versus Pijush Guha, Binayak Sen and Narayan Sanyal, where B.P. Verma sentenced all three to life imprisonment for “conspiring to commit sedition.”
This latest ruling on a sedition case isn’t so much about the narrowing of the space of expression in India (there are far more illustrative cases here, here and here) but more about the wide application of the sedition law to convict when the supporting evidence is questioned by the defence.
Prosecution teams seem to have figured out that in cases involving “Maoist issues” – a poor investigation can easily be supported by planting “seditious” documents and pushing for sedition.
Through the course of this post, I shall try to collate some my coverage over the last two weeks to give you all a sense of how the trial proceeded. As always, I this piece serves as a starting point for further discussions. I would urge readers to post comments with links to articles that they found interesting (along with their own thoughts of course).