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Chattissgarh court hands a life sentence to a human rights luminary sending shock waves in India

The outrageous sentence against Dr. Binayak Sen aims to bludgeon dissent

by Harsh Kapoor, 24 December 2010

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A shock wave just struck the conscience of India. Dr Binayak Sen the celebrated doctor who has spent a lifetime working for the poor in Central India has been made a scapegoat in the war against terror in Central India.
Sen had first been arrested on trumped up charges in 2007 under a draconian Chattisgarh Public Security Act. After a huge long drawn out public campaign in his defence across India and abroad, Sen was released on bail in 2009 on order of the Supreme court of India.

On the 24th of December the Raipur Sessions Court in the central Indian state of Chattissgarh delivered a final ruling charging Dr Binayak Sen of sedition and treason and awarding him a life sentence. Sen has been arrested and moved to prison. Human rights circles and social movement coalitions across India are aghast at the travesty of justice. Human rights groups have already PUCL and PUDR have issued public statements protesting. Committee for the release of Binayak Sen in Bombay organised protest on 24 December 2010. A major protest by PUDR is planned in Delhi on the 27th December 2010. Social movements platform NAPM and Jan Swathya Abhiyan an independent health rights fora have both issued statements and a number of prominent intellectuals and activists, have expressed shock spoken out against the sentencing of Dr Sen.

Major news papers (The Telegraph and The Hindu) had a few days prior to the verdict already expressed consternation at the last plea in court by the public prosecutor in the court by the goverment. In the aftermath of the verdict today prominent news papers (Mail Today and The Hindu) have raised grave concern in their editorials. Independent magazines Tehelka and Hardnews have both carried prominent pieces echoing the outrage at the arrest and sentencing of Dr sen

Citizens groups have vowed to fight back. An online petition addressed to the President of India has been started and is open for signatures by concerned citizens.

This will be long drawn out campaign for justice. All sacw readers are invited to support a public spirited effort to challenge the sentencing of Dr Sen. While the activist community mobilise their energies in India, an international campaign effort is immediately required.

For updates see: binayaksen.net ( a very successful public campaign website based in India) and freebinakaysen.org (initiated by sacw.net in 2007 and managed by a collective)

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