by Aastha Katyal
As Indians who have strong family values and bonds -we know there is nothing worse than a family torn apart.
When a man or a woman is jailed, given a strict term such as life imprisonment or a death sentence, we seldom think of the families they leave behind, if any. In case of notorious criminals and rapists, we hardly have any pity. “They got what they deserved. They asked for it.” Maybe, they did. But what about those who are imprisoned for nothing? What about those who are given strict sentences by the court for absolutely no fault of theirs, the judgement being based on ridiculous “evidence” and false, fabricated details?
Yes, I am talking explicitly about Dr. Binayak Sen, no one else. His case has grabbed so much of media attention over the past two months, ever since the Chattisgarh court sentenced him to life imprisonment on charges of sedition, his crime being a Maoist sympathiser.
What he had actually been doing, in fact, was his duty as a doctor. He had been treating Maoist leader Narayan Sanyal’s hand, in jail, under the supervision of the jailor and with his permission. It was during this time that he has been said to act as a courier between Sanyal and Piyush Guha, a businessman, and as a carrier of letters of correspondence between the two.
Dr. Sen, who is the General Secretary of PUCL [People’s Union for Civil Liberties], has been active as a human rights activist, working in the backward regions of Chattisgarh, for the tribals’ benefits. A documentary made by the acclaimed filmmaker Anand Patwardhan shows how he was among the few doctors, who worked in the back of beyond for the tribals and other locals of the state, in a hospital, that obviously did not pay him in gold, and yet he continued to strive for the welfare of his patients, often foregoing meals, carrying his young daughter with him to work, simultaneously looking after her.
A talk by Mrs. Ilina Sen, his wife, brought tears to my eyes and enraged me at the ridiculousness of his trial and the miscarriage of justice by the judiciary and the police – our supposed caretakers.
A few facts everyone must know with regard to his case, the trial and the judgement, something which the media refuses to pick up, discuss and debate:
a) The Judge was changed thrice. Not once, but thrice. And the Judge who ultimately gave the verdict was on probation.
b) The police in two of their documents submitted to the court mention two different places of arrest for Piyush Guha, something which instead of being looked into by the Judge, is brushed aside as a typing error!
c) The police did not come themselves to arrest Dr. Sen but when he got to know the police was going to be coming for him, he went himself to the police station to enquire into the matter and was thus arrested. Whoever has heard of a Maoist going himself to surrender to the authorities?
d) The police broke into their house and picked up minor, ridiculous details and tagged them to be anti-national or anti-governement. For instance, Ilina Sen, Dr. Sen’s wife had received a forwarded mail in her inbox mentioning as an acronym ISI which actually stood for something completely different and referred to a harmless institute, but was taken to be Pakistan’s intelligence service, and thus Mrs. Ilina Sen was said to have links with the ISI!
e) The Sens had, in their home computer, files and junk like any other family would have. They also had mails in their inbox from friends – Hindus, Christians and Muslims alike. But every mail from any Muslim person was blown out of proportion and thus they were termed to be in correspondence with “terrorists” if you please!
f) An article in Open magazine, Volume 2, Issue 43 dated 31 January, 2011 by Priyanka Borpujari talks of how Aparajita, Dr. Sen’s younger daughter’s algebra notebook was seized by the Chattisgarh police, as they suspected it might contain Maoist code.
All these incidents not only highlight the sad state of affairs as far as the justice system in our country is concerned but also the ridiculousness of the police while gathering evidence, the clear manipulation of the court, the lax attitude with which this trial was approached, and the gross fabrication of evidence by the “lawmakers”.
All this constitute not even half of the atrocities committed by those in authority upon Dr. Sen and his family in the process of his trial.
While the media has its own reasons of not covering these aspects of the matter – be it editorial policy or vested interests (we all know what they might be!) – these points are not known to the millions of people out there who are being fed the government propaganda as far as the case and its details are concerned.
Dr. Sen too is a family man, and while I would never appeal to the public to consider such things for any other criminal, an important point to be noted is that Dr. Sen is NOT a criminal but a doctor, and a human rights activist who raised his voice against state atrocities upon common, vulnerable people through movements like Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt and thus is paying the price of his efforts. The mere fact that he has been given a sentence as harsh as life imprisonment for an offence which usually guarantees not more than 3 years of imprisonment is widely being speculated as an effort on the part of the government to shut him up.
I have seen personally the tears in the eyes of Mrs. Ilina Sen and her younger daughter Aparajita Sen, as the former spoke to us about these horrific acts of the government, the police and the judiciary and believe me, they are NOT fake. I have sensed the helplessness of a woman who has been fighting a battle for the truth, for her husband’s innocence against vile authorities for months and years now, and do not want her to give up. But a person can do only so much all on their own.
While she has the support of her friends, family, co-workers, and many renowned personalities like Mr. Anand Patwardhan himself, what she and the entire family needs is our support. We, the common people, need to wake up and fight for Dr. Sen. We need to fight for the right, fight against the corrupt system that exists today, fight against the atrocities committed by the state and the police on common people. And this is a fight we cannot afford to lose, for today it is them, tomorrow it could be us!