Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Tomorrow, on the 19th of January, 2011, Students For Binayak Sen shall be organising a panel-discussion on the theme of "TREADING THE LINE: SEDITION, RULE OF LAW AND DEMOCRACY IN INDIA", from 4 p.m to 7 p.m. The panelists are: Mr. Amiya Bagchi, noted economist and director of the Institute of Development Studies, Dr. Punyabrata Gun, veteran public health doctor who also happens to be a close acquaintance of Dr. Binayak Sen, Mr. Sujato Bhadra, a prominent and renowned human rights activist, Mr. Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, former Mayor of Kolkata and senior advocate of the Calcutta High Court, Mr. Kirity Roy, secretary of MASUM which happens to be prominent Kolkata-based human-rights NGO, and Mr. Saurabh Bhattacharjee, an esteemed member of the faculty of The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. The session shall be moderated by Mr. Shameek Sen, who also is a member of the faculty of The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. Dr. M.P. Singh, the esteemed Vice-Chancellor of the same university and also an erudite scholar on Constitutional Studies, has kindly agreed to grace the panel-discussion and to provide an introduction for the discussion. the seminar shall be held at the Auditorium of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences and shall be provided with an organizational platform by the Legal Aid Society of that University. All of us are most cordially invited to attend the discussion, and to make it a success.
We are pleased to announce that we have established connection with student representatives from the Jadavpur University, Dept. of Engineering, and have also collected signatures of several students from the Department of Arts of the same University. We would like to thank all of you for your wholehearted support. United, we stand!
Monday, January 17, 2011
We are pleased to announce that we have established connection with student representatives from the Presidency University, Rajabazar Science College and the Scottish Church College. Copies of our petition praying for fair trial of Dr. Binayak Sen along with the corresponding signature-sheets and message-cards, as well as few posters relating to our campaign have been distributed in the aforementioned institutions. The students of these institutions who believe in this cause and wish to make their voices heard are requested to put their signatures in the petition and also to write some message in the message-cards.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
(This petition shall be circulated from today onwards on the campus of WBNUJS)
Dr. Binayak Sen is a paediatrician, a human rights activist, and the vice-president of Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties. He was arrested on May 14, 2007, on suspicion of being a Maoist symphatizer. On December 24, 2010, he was held guilty by the Sessions Court at Raipur of the crime of sedition and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Dr. Binayak Sen has been one of the most vocal critics of the Chattisgarh government’s policy against the Naxal movement, and the role of the Salwa Judum in committing violations of human rights against villagers. He has dedicated years of his life to providing medical care to the poor and helpless. Dr. Binayak Sen is the recipient of the 2008 Johnathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights. Like Liu Xiabao, he was not allowed by the State to attend his award ceremony.
It is undeniable that when a human rights activist protests against human rights violations in a state, and is then accused of being a Maoist symphatizer, any consequent trial is questionable on grounds of misuse of judicial process. And when the consequent trial is of the nature that was Dr. Binayak Sen’s, then the credibility of the process further diminishes. What is worth noting here is that the evidence presented before the Court was, by no stretch of imagination, conclusive enough to prove his conviction. Unfortunately, the Judges did not give any credence to the insufficiency of evidence in the matter while awarding him with the sentence. A cursory glance at the Judgment is sufficient to prove this surprising disregard for and unwillingness to accept the value of evidence in a criminal trial. After all, The Sessions Court based its judgment on the testimony of a man who claimed to overhear a statement by Dr. Sen’s co-accused, Mr. Pijush Guha, that Mr. Guha received certain letters from Dr. Sen. Other evidence included letters in which Binayak Sen was referred to as “comrade”.
As students, we find it unacceptable that in a democratic state, anti-sedition laws be used to clamp down on genuine voices against human rights violations. We further believe that the judicial process should not be employed as a means of harassment against those who voice genuine grievances against the state. We also believe that respect for human rights is as integral to the rule of law as is national security. We further believe that national security cannot be used as an excuse for the flagrant violation and suppression of our fundamental and human rights. Lastly, we believe that as persons with a genuine cause of grievance against the State, we could all be Binayak Sens, and if he could be given a sentence of life imprisonment, our collective right to freedom of speech and expression is in danger.
Therefore, we, the undersigned, as students who believe in Dr. Binayak Sen, and who believe in the right of every citizen to dissent peacefully, appeal to you to ensure that Dr. Binayak Sen is treated with the justice and fairness that he deserves. We further appeal that his trial is dealt with as swiftly as possible. Dr. Binayak Sen’s very incarceration is shameful in a democracy. The least that we can do is to ensure that this disgraceful act is remedied as soon as possible, so that Dr. Binayak Sen can go back to serving the people of Chattisgarh.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The Plan of Action for this campaign
We, on behalf of all the people who wish to speak out against the grave injustice meted out to Dr. Binayak Sen by the State and the Judiciary, do hereby announce our plan of action. At present, we have very little time on our hands because the matter on proceedings on the appeal against the conviction of Dr. Sen has been listed to begin in the Hon’ble High Court at Raipur from the 23rd of this month. Consequently, we must act with a considerable sense of urgency. Given below is a rough outline of the activities we shall undertake.
Our protest shall be like a trident, the three-prongs being:
- 1) A signature-campaign cum petition to the President of India, the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of Chhattisgarh, the Chief Justice of the High Court at Raipur and the Judges who shall preside over the proceedings
- 2) A poster-campaign informing of the abovementioned petition at a few colleges and universities.
- 3) A panel discussion at the Auditorium of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences on this matter.
Please allow me to elucidate upon the three abovementioned programmes which we intend to undertake
First of all, we shall be organizing a signature campaign. We have drafted a petition demanding a fair trial for Dr. Binayak Sen. And we wish to get our signatures on the petition. Anybody who believes in this cause is not only welcome but is also urged and requested put up her or his signature on the petition. We have also arranged for message-cards on which those of us who will be signing on the petition can write a message addressed to one or more of the persons mentioned above, to whom the petition along with the messages shall be sent. Please do not put any derogative, abusive, hateful or vulgar messages on the message-cards, because cards with such messages shall, naturally, not be sent. Of course, writing messages is completely discretionary and we are under no compulsion to write messages even if we sign. However, it is always a good idea to express our voices of solidarity so that our collective voice on this issue can grow stronger and can ring out loud and clear at places where it matters most. The signature campaign shall begin from the 14th of this month and shall go on till the 25th. The signing period been divided into two parts, Phase 1 and Phase 2.
Phase 1 – This phase shall begin on the 14th of this month and shall continue till the 19th. During this phase, the petition and the cards shall be placed at the campus of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. The address of the University is: Dr. Ambedkar Bhavan, LB-12, Sector II, Salt Lake City, Kolkata 700 098. It is located at the Belaghata connector and is well connected with all the parts of Kolkata. Now, the petition, along with the message-cards shall be placed inside the main building, (Academic Block), right beside the side-entrance of the University. All of you are cordially invited to come to the University and put up your signatures and messages, if any. The time for signing and writing messages will be from 2 pm to 8 pm on all the dates from 14th to 19th, except the 16th which happens to be a Sunday. For that date, the timing is from 10 am to 8 pm. You are most welcome to be present at the campus and to sign and write messages on that date if such is convenient for you.
Phase 2 – This Phase shall begin on the 20th of this month and shall continue till the 25th , excluding the 24th which, again, is a Sunday. During this phase we shall visit different college and university campuses all over Kolkata with the petition and the message cards in the afternoon. All of us who will not be able to put their signatures and write their messages are hereby requested to put the same on those dates. We shall notify the names of the Colleges and Universities we intend to visit one day in advance through our blog as well as through our facebook group-page. Besides, interested people are also requested and encouraged to contact us through the e-mail ID.s and telephone numbers which have been provided at the end of this note. All the information sought through such or any other mode of communication shall be provided forthwith.
We shall put the petition up on our blog as well as on our group-page on facebook shortly.
Our signature campaign closes on the 25th of this month in the evening. We intend to send the petition, along with our signatures and messages, to the persons referred to above by the end of this month.
The second aspect is a poster-campaign. We have developed a few posters with the intention of making our objectives clear on one hand and that of providing information on the signature campaign for the petition as well as on the panel discussion which we shall be organizing in this regard. We intend to put the posters up inside the campuses of some of the Colleges and Universities all over Kolkata, and we shall keep you updated about the names of the institutions where we shall put the posters up through our blog and also through our group-page on facebook.
The third programme which is to be organized by us shall be a panel discussion on the theme of: “TREADING THE LINE: SEDITION, RULE OF LAW AND DEMOCRACY IN INDIA” on Wednesday, 19th January 2011, from 4 to 7 p.m. We hope to have a panel of seven, and we have confirmed participation from five dignitaries, namely Mr. Kirity Roy, secretary of MASUM which happens to be prominent human-rights NGO based on Kolkata Mr. Amiya Bagchi, noted economist and director of the Institute of Development Studies, Dr. Punyabrata Gun, veteran public health doctor who also happens to be a close acquaintance of Dr. Binayak Sen, Mr. Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, former Mayor of Kolkata and senior advocate of the Calcutta High Court, and Mr. Saurabh Bhattacharjee, an esteemed member of the faculty of The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. Mr. Ravindra Kumar who is currently the editor of The Statesman and prominent human rights activist Mr. Sujato Bhadra have also given their preliminary consents to grace our panel and we are expecting formal confirmation from them soon. The session shall be moderated by Mr. Shameek Sen, who also is a member of the faculty of The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. As has been mentioned above, the seminar shall be held at the Auditorium of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences and shall be provided with an organizational platform by the Legal Aid Society of that University. Those interested in this matter are most cordially invited to attend and participate in the discussion on the theme as mentioned above.
Please make a note of the dates of all the programmes and activities which are to be conducted as a part of this campaign. Those among us who have any queries regarding any of the above events, or those who seek further information on any aspect of this campaign are urged to contact us through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or to contact Atindriyo (telephone number: 9830711861; e-mail ID. email@example.com), Somdutto (telephone number: 9903480108; e-mail ID. firstname.lastname@example.org) or Darshana (telephone number: 9836953983; e-mail ID. email@example.com), who are presently coordinating the campaign on behalf of this forum. We promise that all queries shall be addressed and all information sought shall be provided within a reasonably short time-span.
If any unforeseeable contingency compels us to make changes in the plan of action, you shall be informed immediately of the same through our blog and also through our group on facebook.
The link of our campaign-blog is as provided below:
The aims and objectives of this campaign:
This campaign has been launched in order to make a rightful demand for fair trial of Dr. Binayak Sen, which, in our view, has not been afforded to him. The State has sought to curb the dissident voice of this man who has dedicated his life to the noble cause of upliftment and betterment of the lives of underprivileged citizens of our nation. The Judgment delivered by the Hon’ble Sessions Court at Raipur, Chhattisgarh which has resulted in his indictment is indicative of the ulterior intention of the State that it, taking the aid of the Judicial system, is trying to silence his rightful voice which, in turn, signifies oppression and miscarriage of Justice. In the present campaign, we intend to keep our focus firmly rooted to the issue of such abuse of the Judicial system by the power-that-be and we intend to raise our voice of protest against this. We seek fair trial of Dr. Binayak Sen.
The raison d’etre behind this campaign
Though a signature campaign on this matter has been organized by the students pursuing courses for the medical profession before and such is most definitely an extremely encouraging happening for people like us who are concerned with this issue, a composite campaign programme of this nature, seeking fair trial for Dr. Binayak Sen, including a panel discussion on the issue has not been launched, organized and conducted from, by and within such a heterogeneous and diverse group of students and other interested people in Kolkata prior to this. We seek your active cooperation in this effort aimed at unification of our voices claiming realization of the democratic rights which have been provided to each and every citizen of India and has been in the Constitution of our country. Upholding the Constitutional Democracy of our country is the need of the hour and these “small steps” from our part can, and we believe shall, add up to one “giant leap” for “We, the People of India”, the phrase which the Preamble to the Indian Constitution begins with.
Monday, January 10, 2011
On 24 December 2010, the Additional Sessions and District Court Judge, Raipur found Dr. Binayak Sen, the Vice-President of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, guilty of sedition for aiding the Maoists in their fight against the state under Sections 120 read with Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code, Sections 6(1), 8(2), 8(3) and 8(5) of the 6(1) of Chhattisgarh Vishesh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam, 2005 and Section 9(2) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and was sentenced to life imprisonment Immediately after the sentencing, Dr. Sen's bail was revoked and he was taken back into custody.
What is worth noting here is that the evidences present before the Judges were, by no stretch of imagination conclusive enough to prove his conviction. Unfortunately, the Judges did not give any credence to the insufficiency of evidence in the matter while awarding him with the sentence. A cursory glance at the text of the Judgment, as has been provided below in Hindi and its corresponding translation in English, is sufficient to prove this surprising disregard for and unwillingness to accept the value of evidence in a criminal trial:
Now Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which makes right to life and personal liberty a fundamental right, lays down, and quite clearly so, that no person can be deprived of his right to life and personal liberty except in accordance with law. For a Judgment which does not take the value of evidence into account even for a trial involving such a cognizable criminal offence as sedition, the constitutionality of the Judgment deserves to be questioned.
What is more unfortunate is that blatant disregard for basic rights, as is reflected in the Judgment, has been going on for years since “independence”. What we have here is a situation in which a prominent human rights activist who has dedicated his life towards the cause of helping the tribal people of our country lead a better life has been brutally suppressed. Such suppression of dissident voices by the powers-that-be goes against the very fabric of democracy. It is worth noting that in the given issue the Government has paid no heed even to the severe criticism of this Judgment and the demand for release of Dr. Binayak Sen, as has been made time and again by international institutions like Amnesty International, the British Medical Association, and even the British House of Commons and also by several leading human rights activists and international personalities including Amartya Sen and Noam Chomsky. Such attitude taken by the Government reeks of adamancy and does not augur well for a democracy with Constitution which upholds the right of individuals to live with dignity as “Fundamental Right”. Even a surreptitious nexus between the legislature and the judiciary on the matter of making an “example” out of Dr. Binayak Sen can not be ruled out of suspicion. Separation of powers between the the legislature, the judiciary and the executive is considered as one of the basic aspects of any constitutional democracy, and such liaison between the legislature and the judiciary is tremendously harmful for such democracy.
This gross violation of law and of human rights needs to be protested in the strongest of words, and every citizen has the right to make such protest. The need of the hour is for the citizens to unite and raise their voices in unison against this because what has happened and is happening here is harmful for the cause of democracy and human rights. We, as representatives of the students of Kolkata, do hereby condemn the treatment meted out to Dr. Sen by the State. We seek support and solidarity from all of you regarding this matter.
Proceedings with regards to appeal against this verdict shall start in the High Court of Chhatisgarh on and from the 23rd of January, 2011. On behalf of all the college and university students from Kolkata, we do hereby request the Hon’ble Court to see to it that the conviction of Dr. Sen be set aside, for such, we believe, will not only meet the ends of justice, equality and good conscience, but would also go a long way in helping the cause of human rights of our country.