New Delhi: A law-abiding citizen who was actively involved in community service in Chattisgarh has been put behind bars. His crime? He investigated a few fake encounter cases in the Naxalite hit districts of the state.
Dr Binayak Sen has been languishing in Raipur jail for the past three-months. Even though the state government has no incriminating evidence against him, he has been charged with promoting Naxalite outfits in the state.
Sen used to teach community health workers, ways of treating common ailments like, malaria and cholera. He was an integral part of backward Chhatisgarh's rural health care scheme.
But for the past two-years Dr Sen had drawn himself into investigating fake encounter cases in the Naxalite-affected districts, Dantewara and Bastar.
He reportedly criticized the way the government was promoting Salwa Judum—an anti Naxalite movement and also raised questions on “fake encounters” taking place in the state.
A 750-page chargesheet was slapped on him in which he was charged with having links with Naxalites.
Prima facie, the chargesheet does not have enough incriminating evidence against Sen.
It simply insists on implicating Dr Sen for having visited a Maoist functionary, Narayan Sanyal in the Raipur jail 33 times.
Dr Sen says he was treating the ailing 70-year old prisoner Sanyal. But the government thinks otherwise. Sen has been charged with “criminal offense” for visiting the ailing terrorist in the jail.
The government officials have turned a deaf ear to human right activists as well who demand Sen's release on humanitarian grounds and lack of evidence against him.
“When scores of people are gunned down, no one bothers. Everyone is so concerned about one man’s arrest,” said Chief Minister Raman Singh.
The 750 page chargesheet slapped on Dr Sen insists he was a Naxalite who helped other Naxal groups, treated them and carried their letters. But Dr Sen's friends disagree.
“We have time and again condemned all the violent acts of all parties including the Maoists,” said human rights activist Raju Syal.
Gradually voices of protest are being heard. Doctors all over the country especially those from his alma mater, Christian Medical College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu, have gone on a massive signature campaign against the alleged “fake” charges slapped on Sen.
It’s been over three months now that Dr Binayak has been in jail. The protests have already begun gaining momentum. Those who are protesting are keenly aware that it’s a long battle ahead of them.
For the family, these are trying times. His wife Illina and two daughters hope justice will prevail,” We hope on the 60th independence day the charges against Binayak will be lifted and he will be released,” said Illina.
The local health care workers are now on a campaign pressing the government for Sen’s release. But the government has not responded, nor has any investigation been done to prove the charges while Sen remains in jail.