The Case of Dr. Sen

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From Javed Akthar’s  Twitter feed: “Dr Binayak Sen’s life imprisonment reminds us that standing by the poor and the helpless is an unforgivable crime in our society”. This sentiment is repeated in different ways in the general chatter about the Binayak Sen verdict—he is an awarded doctor with a sterling record of public service and what a terrible country India is when such a man be punished when corrupt officials who siphoned off crores walk free? Unfortunately all of this is emotional hot-air used by activists, with a definite agenda, to provoke an emotional response rather than a cerebral one. Even the LET’s parent organization does extensive social work in Pakistan and Kashmir as part of their outreach activities and, for that matter, so do Naxals themselves—-as a matter of fact, C. Vanaja’s extremely sympathetic dispatches on the developmental work done by Naxals were themselves awarded by the Prime Minister of India as part of the RN Goenka sponsored  “Uncovering India Invisible”. Hence using Dr. Sen’s record of altruism is neither here nor there and should have no bearing on whether he is a criminal or not except proving that unlike champagne liberal hypocrites of the Azmi and the Roy type, this man has the conviction to walk the talk. Which is admirable no doubt. Also just because corrupt officials go unpunished should not excuse Dr. Sen, should he be guilty, as two wrongs we all know just make two wrongs and not one right.

One’s opinions then should be formed by considering two things—-the case against Dr. Sen and whether what he is being accused of should get the life sentence? From a general look at documents available on the Net, one can conclude that there is little credible evidence to establish that Dr. Sen was involved in the operational details of Maoist terrorist activities. The prosecution’s attempts to link him to ISI have been farcical. Of course by the “creativity” of their charges, they have weakened their own case when it goes inevitably to the Supreme Court (They did exactly the same thing for S.A.R. Geelani, the defense just had to show that the prosecutors irregularities, call into doubt their motives and the man walked free) and have had made it that much easier for supporters of Dr. Sen to call into doubt the other more credible charges that exist against Dr. Sen. Similarly some of the defenses given by his supporters available on the PUCL website are structured like this: “Mr. X could not have written the letter as he was arrested six days ago. There is no record of him being arrested of course but Mr. X has told us he was arrested and we believe him.”

However what is pretty clear, and that has not even been denied much also, is that Dr. Sen is a strong Maoist sympathizer. Searches of his house revealed ultra-Left literature and I think we can all agree that if you have a stash of Playboys in your cabinet, one can safely say that you like women.  Dr. Sen had been actively working in the legal defense of Naxal terrorists like Narayan Sanyal which explains the cash found on him which was going to be used as payment for Sanyal’s lawyers. Sanyal had written to him from jail and while these letters have the standard bromides against imperialism and the Indian state (and could be argued to contain the philosophies of a banned organization) [source] and the need to extend their activities among the peasantry and in urban centers, there are not any operational details of illegal activities. He and his wife had been instrumental in getting jobs for people accused of being Naxalites but then again considering the kind of company the Sens kept, being Maoist sympathizers themselves, that is but natural.

According to the Chattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA), any kind of facilitation for members of unlawful organizations is a crime and by that token the case against Dr. Sen is strong. But the terms of imprisonment according to the law, are in the range of two to three years and definitely not life. This is why I strongly believe that Dr. Sen’s punishment will be overturned by the Supreme Court.

Taking a step back, the larger issue is “Is it a democratic right to believe in “banned” philosophies and to facilitate the nominally non-violent activities (like passing their propaganda around or helping in their legal defense) of those who plan and engage in violence against the State”? Or in other words, is CSPSA  by definition anti-democratic? Is it within the purview of democratic rights to stockpile SIMI literature for instance, carry around suitcases of cash for the defense of SIMI activists as a courier and publicize their rants against the Indian state while making the point that though you do not agree with SIMI’s philosophy of violence, you agree with their assertion that India is a Hindu state that is involved in the genocide of Muslims and hence you are advancing their interests (this is the kind of argument Dr. Sen makes but with respect to Naxals—-he does not support violence but is sympathetic to their aims with respect to getting rights for tribals and fighting Salwa Judum, an organization that rivals the Naxals in their brutality except that it was supported by the Chattisgarh government to put down the Naxals extra-constitutionally)?

Putting it another way, at what stage does facilitation end and freedom of dissent begin?

Dr. Sen’s case is a case which sits right in this twilight zone. Working tirelessly all his life for the uplift of the dispossessed, Dr. Sen has frequently found common cause with Naxalites and even if we accept his contention that he does not support their methods of violence, their goals and  his overall philosophy has been congruent. Given this, it is only natural that the lines of cooperation between them would become blurred over the years and what the State considers active facilitation he would put down to legitimate political activity in support of people whose goals he supports. Unfortunately what most people do not understand that the goals of the Naxals are not restricted to only getting tribals their rights, an admirable one but one primarily used as a PR front to hide their real aim—-   overthrow the Indian state, loot the wealthy (yes even Javed Akthar and Azmi won’t be safe) and re-distribute it, make the intellectuals work the fields (yes Ms. Roy won’t be safe either, should she not be in Boston sipping latte when the revolution happens), in essence establishing a Pol Pot-type regime of Marxist totalitarianism where democracy has no place. To that aim, they are willing to use the cover of democracy and free speech for now purely as a strategic weapon to be abandoned once they come to power.

Given that, one needs to ask are we willing to let these people use the shield of democracy to push forward their anti-democratic final agenda through “the extension of their movement” (as Narayan Sanyal’s letters said) [as per their own website’s report] or are we prepared to ensure that terrorist philosophies of Naxalism are put down with a firm hand? If you believe in the second, then you also need to ask—-do we risk making Dr. Sen a martyr by bearing down on him so severely (and mind you, he already has the halo attached to his head) or are we better of doing a strategic “leaving the ball outside the off-stump” in his case, considering the greyness of the entire affair?

Points to ponder.

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78 thoughts on “The Case of Dr. Sen

  1. This is probably not connected to this post so much but Javed Akhtar had never been in the same category as Azmi and Roy. Akhtar in fact never made issues about how the Hindu state oppressed Muslims and Saif Ali Khan not getting a house. All that was Azmi. Akhtar is the man whose lines were made famous by Rahman in the red carpet ‘Mere pass Maa hai’. How did this man turn into a latte sipping liberal. When???

  2. I dont think its a bad idea though for the Maoists to take over. Worst case scenario, millions of people die in trying to live a failed ideology , and we get to start over. Its not the fault only of maoists, its also of the people ( and a vast majority at that). I am sorry but the people get the kind of government they deserve.

  3. Spare the foot-Naxals, go after the ideologues.

    Even though, I feel the Supreme Court will reduce the sentence on appeal to a more moderate 6-8 yrs, this sends the right signal to those who are running the bloodshed from behind intellectual burkhas.

  4. @ Aditi
    How the hell did the pseudo-liberals manage to convince the Hindus that the Muslims (the second most numerous community in the world, with many times more resources available to them than Hindus, globally,) are the “underdog”.

    In a M-H comparison, the Hindus are not just the underdogs, they are the Chihuahuas by many feet.

  5. Dr. Sen’s case should rest solely on evidence alone and the moot point is did he at all carry the letters ? This is an aspect all have ignored, including you, Arnab. You can’t merely paper over the fact that the letters couldn’t have been smuggled out without active connivance and help of the jail officials and they too would be equally guilty of sedition. If you can’t establish that he did carry the letters, the entire case has little to stand on. And yes, helping provide legal defance to Maoist cannot be a crime under any circumstance, can it be ?

    @Avjit Das
    Life Imprisonment is for life, that is till the convict dies, and not 20 years. This has already been clarified by the Supreme Court earlier.

  6. India has many problems, Roy, Azmi and latest in that celebrity league is Sen. For instance, even if we imagine that Maoists take over India, will the trio live? They will be ‘shoot at sight’. I am amazed by the Muslim-Communist (one hard line believer and the other non believer) coming together to berate hindu dominated India.

  7. Arnab ,

    How come no one talks of salwa judum’s ,mining leases,and the tribal displacements.

    and guys, come on ,saying naxals will take over if intellectuals will support them is like saying hindutva will take over if people support BJP…

    and why are not the naxals who surrender in AP booked for sedition ,why are they given homes/jobs.

    apply the same rule for all ,book mehbooba mufti for sedition and arundhati roy for sedition ,not sen ..

  8. I feel that the naxalite concerns about poverty etc. are quite legitimate. The danger comes from those who use terms like “Hindu-dominated state” to try and divert this anger to fuel their anti-Hindu cause.

    The strategy is as follows:
    1) Reservations, NREGA and other schemes cooked up by the Congress to loot the taxpayer.
    2) None of benefits reaches the needy leading to movements like Naxalism, Kashmiri separtists.
    3) Congress builds up a mythos like Hindu dominated state. Through propaganda their aims are:
    a) Convince Hindus that they are the target – Feeling threatened the productive majority i.e. Hindus fork over more taxpayer money to fund more NREGA, Defense spending against Naxal “threat” etc. They also produce blogs and other ill-informed opinions condemning Naxals, Kashmiri Separatists without knowing
    b) Convince rank-and-file naxals/kashmiris that Hindus are to blame – Target ordinary Hindus instead of the Congress.

    Classic socialist divide and rule oppression.

  9. @ Satish
    ” None of benefits reaches the needy leading to movements like Naxalism, Kashmiri separtists.”

    -Kashmiri separatism has less to do with corruption and more to do with Jihad. However hard you try (to put the focus on Congress and its blunders), Kashmiri terrorists will target Hindus as long as they are Hindus.

    -Even the Naxal movement has less to do with development and more to do with a brutal ideological system that is a remnant of a failed 20th century political ideology. Any socio/economic faultline is fair game for Naxals/Maoists.

    Naxal movement is not a generational movement and can be controlled with sincere and sustainable approach to development and some serious prosecution of senior level ideologues.

  10. This is a good post covering all the bases GB.

    My discomfort is due to the fact that it’s the avowed strategy of Naxals to keep prominent people in the gray zone. Many good works on Naxalism speak of academics, social activists, politicians, bureaucrats and even businessmen living double (even successful) lives: they have daytime jobs and on the other side they are secret facilitators of the naxal revolution. I mean chota-mota jobs like social work aimed in getting converts, talent-spotting, couriers, spies within the system etc. The good Doctor can be put into this category, perhaps?
    There is also another layer who have pretty much erased themselves out off the grid and do not participate in public rallies or even actively associate with the first group. This is the group that facilitates the direct operations and provide safe houses in cities, forge documents, do recce etc…. the kind of ops the first group ain’t exactly suited for. Finally you have the gun-totting type who are active rebels/criminals. In fact, the religious/casteist/splittist terror groups all share this structure.
    BTW, these groups are distinct from the echelon of public “supporters of the larger aims” and Human Rights Industry which aren’t actually a part of the movement but are useful idiots.

    If the prosecution makes a good case against the high profile character Dr. Sen has now become, with a lot of PR in the direction of bringing to public view the Tier 1 of terrorists and how they walk among us and WIN the case….. it would be a major boost in our war against naxals. This need not follow a McCarthy-ish witch-hunt M.O. which can backfire terribly……. but a PR broadside with some prominent examples.

    More than smoking out Tier 1 and Tier 2 folk from their holes I guess it would provide grounds for public opinion on “at what stage does facilitation end and freedom of dissent begin”. Perhaps some good will come out of it and the supreme court (which apparently seem quite sensitive to public opinion) will set a legal precedent which draws the line….. if not parliament passing some laws in the wake of public groundswell.

    I think this will make things much more difficult for the armed wing of the Maoists…. without a hidden but significant Tiers 1 & 2 and the Human Rights Industry they will be much more vulnerable to the COIN forces. Hey, this is the country which bombed one of it’s own capitals and sent battle tanks into holy shrines. Without legal grey areas and media/overground support and lack of any public empathy the Govt will be free to deal the death blow.

    Just my thoughts.

  11. @Utsav

    By separatists I meant the Hurriyat, not jehadis.

    Any movement has to tap into that universal human aspiration of improving one’s quality of life. A rise to prominence means that the leaders of these movements are now perceived to be one with that cause. Therefore *any* attempt to silence Hurriyat/Naxals without addressing the root cause of poor development will make them out to be heroes and entrench feelings of oppression and grievances. You only paint a target on your back by cheering on the shooting of messengers.

    Who you should be angry at is the people who loot tens of thousands of crores from you each year, for most of India’s lifetime, using the mantra of “inclusive growth”. During this period if nothing has improved then the Government are the real villians!

  12. @D
    @satish

    “Adopting Android is like Finnish boys, “who pee in their pants for warmth,” according to Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia’s outgoing head of its Mobile Solutions unit. It might make you feel warm for a bit, but you’ll then find yourself in an even worse predicament.”

    Ditto for adopting naxalism in the place of democracy.

  13. Ahhh….Maoists and development.
    The Maoists have this “Destroy-Rebuild” strategy where they destroy existing infrastructure till they attain their goal of capturing power the strategy of Maoists is to. No matter if it causes problems for the people they claim to serve. Otherwise, why blow up radio, electricity & communication infrastructure, schools and sarkari rural offices?

    One can understand Maoists destroying utilities infrastructure from an operational POV. It will harass the operations of the state and villages that are not so remote….. the very remote villages where Maoists establish Rear Base usually do not have those utilities connection and won’t feel that pinch.
    However schools are another matter; the Maoists claim they blow up school because the troops hunting them take shelter/set up base in schools. The reason is more brutal- in those rural parts the school is the point of distribution of government aid. It is where refuge is provided when there is flooding/heat wave/micro famines. Spare rooms are even used to shelter cattle in times of need. Programs blood donation and Govt rural health camps are also held there. Now take away the school from the villagers you take away the physical presence of the state and those rights/considerations for citizens that are at least enshrined in the constitution. The only mai-baap left for the tribals/villagers would be the rank outsider “Comrade Brother” and his posse.

  14. Given that, one needs to ask are we willing to let these people use the shield of democracy to push forward their anti-democratic final agenda through “the extension of their movement

    This question should be asked of the Congress! Who have ruled “democratic” India 99% of the time despite a dismal record.

    What’s the difference between the “Nazi” BJP or the “Jehadi” Hurriyat or the “Brutal” Naxals? Same Congress tactics, different audiences.

    Orwellian laws used to protect you from 20-something Pakistanis will be used to spy on the Ratan Tatas.

  15. The quantum of the sentence typically depends on the question “what quantum can reform the man” , it is quite evident that a 2 – 3 years time in Jail will not reform Binayak Sen , it would in fact make him a bigger threat to national security once he’s out , hence i feel the life imprisonment is justified in cases ehre the court is convinced that the person cannot be reformed by a lighter sentence.

  16. @ayush: So that decision should be a subjective one by the judge, and not based on the evidence presented? Bravo. Why have a trial at all then?

  17. A common charge brought up against the State and the investigating agencies is that of having planted evidence in order to secure convictions.While there is often more to it than the versions presented by the defence; the fact on the ground remains that such acts are resorted to as desperate measures by ill-trained and ill-equipped forces fighting a battle that they were never meant to fight.

    The term asymmetric warfare gains added importance when it comes to law enforcement agencies in India.An incident in an entirely different context would perhaps throw some light to demonstrate how thoroughly outclassed our forces are.Sometime in the middle of this decade, the advent of cheap Chinese made FM radio sets threw the police forces in a southern Indian state into a quandary.These radio devices costing less than a hundred rupees were capable of tuning into police transmission frequencies rendering their communication lines useless.So much so that a few enterprising policemen abandoned their radio sets altogether and resorted using mobile phones as they offered better encryption.

    All too often, the local police are handicapped from the very start due to the lack of adequate resources and training.Add to this endemic corruption within it’s own ranks and the time honoured tradition of letting the politically influential culprits go scot free- the investigation does not really even start till the issue achieves epic proportions.The “special” investigation teams which are then given the task of conducting investigations do not come into the scene until after it is too late in the day.These “special” teams are often led by able officers who have reputations to guard.Then, the mad scramble for results leads to the concoction of evidences and other such questionable tactics.

    A sad state of affairs,but all this is but one manifestation of the state of rot that has eaten into our administrative structure.

  18. @Ayush by your logic psychopaths should be hung outright, because they can’t ever reform!

    Once again GB points out the actual problem in all this melodrama going on.

  19. The punishment is correct. The more we keep ourselves away from ideals of law while dealing with supporters of killers, the better our future. Good or bad, the writ of the state must not be challenged. It is our self aggrandisement at kid gloving such groups and their supporters that we have a dozen aazadi believers in north east, one in Kashmir, one in central india and millions across the country. The intellectual garb cannot be justified for supporting maoists.

    Btw, does anyone know if Shariat is going to be established once Maoists overthrow the government. I not, I would prefer them, as anyway Shariat in our country is not far away: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main48.asp?filename=Ws241210MARKETSII.asp

  20. >> they are willing to use the cover of democracy and free speech for now purely as a strategic weapon to be abandoned once they come to power.

    Couldn’t have agreed more. It is really ironical to see people subscribing to totalitarian ideologies shouting from the rooftops about democracy, human rights, civil liberty. If nothing else proves the perfidy of their ideology which allows for insidious rubric. Naxalites and their sympathizers need to be unequivocally crushed.

  21. @shan thts the reason we have a right to appeal , so that 1 judge doesnt have the final word !

    @sudipto psychopaths who a a threat to to the society like compulsive murderers / rapists et all are sentenced to death and very rightly so.

  22. Possibly a naive take. I believe no one, absolutely no one, should be jailed until concrete evidence of assisting (by which, I mean, being an active part of) illegal activity has been found. This is regardless of whatever beliefs he or she might hold and howsoever close he or she might be to known criminals.

    Now I don’t know the exact details of Dr. Sen’s case. For illuminating me on this issue, thanks a lot!

  23. It is really interesting to see how the chorus plays in synchronization. The first statements that came out in support of Binayak Sen were pretty subtle and more of an outrage, comparisons between the hot issues of the day (how 2G and CWG scamsters are freely mocking in front of cameras). As the day has passed, outrage has mutated into rhetoric and bordered on near contempt-of-court.

  24. You have raised a very important question in your article – the legality of lending intellectual and other non-military support to a banned organisation. Very tricky one, no doubt.

    But in my opinion, violence is the only anathema of democracy. Even an ultra-left agenda, presented to the public in the electoral theatre, is fair game. After all, the elite like us have no right to dictate that democracy should carry only the current right-of-centre agenda and that other views are illegal.

    The only things that can be called illegal are:
    1. Demand for secession from the Indian state and support thereof. A corollary is support for another country at the cost of our own
    2. Use of violence and other non-ballot routes to establish a regime / society. Incitement to violence is a corollary

    If Dr. Sen is guilty as per the second rule above, punish him by all means. Otherwise, he is entitled to solicit support for his view, however left leaning it may seem to us

  25. The middle-class majoritarianist blood boils every time it hears of naxal violence, the views of secular liberals or leftist intellectuals supporting the cause of the poor. However, this same blood doesn’t boil enough when it hears of the “terrorism” of the land and mining mafia or the suffering brought about on the tribals and the very very underprivileged by policy decisions or lack of policy decisions. Why this selective outrage? It is especially ironic when this outrage is expressed by Indians settled in the US. People who migrated to the US to pursue their career because they thought the US provided more opportunities than India. And once they reach a certain level of comfort in the US, their patriotism suddenly gets magnified and they would rather use a firm hand to put down everything that is unpalatable for the “American taste.”

  26. Dear Avijit Ghosh
    Once a freind of mine who works as a teacher for “1 teacher schools” in Vanavasi area ( http://www.ekalvidya.org ) , went to visit a school in a Maoist hit area. On reaching the site he was invited by the village elders, all of whom were Vanavasis.

    After a brief meeting, one of them held my friends shoulder and started to cry unconsolably. When asked why he was crying the poor Vanavasi replied-
    “Bhaisahab, the last time someone came to our village and talked to us about our Rights, he gave us the gun….and since then all we have seen is tears and tragedy.
    You came to us and talked about the exact same things that those people (Naxals) talked about, EXCEPT that you took away the gun and gave us the pen. Thats why I am crying. Thank you for doing that”.

    So next time you feel socially romantic and feel all revolutionery and red, donate a dozen Rupees to http://www.ekalvidya.org

  27. Avijit,

    Yes please donate to Ekal. Just remember your dollars/Euros will go to fund Hindu right-wing indoctrination, which is their definition of “education”.

    http://www.sanghparivar.org/wiki/ekal-vidyalaya

    Oot-sob’s experience made me so emotional, I am still weeping. But to pen better imaginary stories, here is a suggestion. The dialog should have been:

    You came to us and talked about the exact same things that those people (Naxals) talked about, EXCEPT that you took away the gun and gave us Lord Rama. Thats why I am crying. Thank you for doing that. Now who do I have to convert?

    GB, Cracking post. Only suggestion: please do not let cyber-vagrants use your comment-space to raise money for their “causes”. Trying to get converts through their messages is one thing. This is something else. Soon for the sake of fairness, you would have to allow Viagra salesmen and $2.99/minute webcam chat girls also. In their defense, they at least are honest businessmen.

  28. @ anonymous
    Your call brother.
    Having Rama in our heart’s is better than killing someone for a absolutist leftist ideology. But maybe, that is a choice beyond your reach.

    Ekalvidyalaya schools (www.ekalvidya.org) do Vande Mataram and Sarasvati Puja (once a year). Students of other religions are free not to attend the Sarasvati Puja if they want and many in schools in Kashmir dont.

    If you consider Vande Mataram and Sarasvati Puja (by choice) a Sangh Parivar brainwashing, then you are free to join Rahul Gandhi and his club.

    The Adivasis know better than you.

  29. Oot-sob,

    If having Rama in your hearts, produces a sick, sad Muslim-hater like you, spare me brother. In all these three years on this site, there is not one logical argument you have made without appealing to deep dark xenophobic hatred and absolute ignorance (besides of course Google and wikipedia). If this is what it means to have “Rama in your hearts” then spare us.

    As to your other lies about Ekal, yeah sure. Madrasas also teach students the path of love and peace. The day you buy that, I will buy your assertion about Ekal. Sounds fair?

  30. @ anonymous
    I dont dislike any Muslim,They are the same as us.
    I dislike the ideology of Islam and I have maintained that from the first day I wrote here.

    Muslims are as much a victim of Islam as the rest of humanity.

    Also, I myself live in a foreign country. How can I be a Xenophobic?

    I dont want you to buy anything. But I invite you to visit a Ekal Vidyalaya school (you can hide yoru identityt there too, if you want). There are 35,000 of them in India.

  31. Utsav,

    First of all Xenophobia means the fear of something that is foreign not necessarily of foreigners. So Islam is foreign for you. Hence the “xenophobia”.

    You dislike the idealogy of Islam. Well they dislike the idealogy of Hinduism. They do not dislike Hindus because if they did they would not try to convert them. Right? So how are you any different?

  32. @ anonymous
    The difference is big.
    Hindu Dharma does not dislike the ideology of Islam.
    I do.
    But, the ideology of Islam dislikes Hindu Dharma (60% + of the Quran is devoted to hatred of Kuffar)

    That my friend, is the difference.

    The word ‘foreign’ is relative. When I consider the whole world to be my home. Xenophobia to me would be fear of the Martians.

    But that may not be the same for you.

  33. @ anonymous
    I dont think Greatbong would like us to discuss this any more. He has gone on record many times before about that.

    If you would like to discuss the Bible/Quran and the Vedas, Upanishads, Gita or any other Shruti/Smriti, please lets talk about it offline My email- rishi_khujur@rediffmail.com

  34. Based solely on evidence, this case is so riddled with loopholes and bad judicial practices that it would have been laughed out of court in normal circumstances. This case has obviously been used by a right wind government o make an example of Dr. Sen and to teach “intellectuals”a lesson.

    The prosecution won in spite of making the gaffes of the century – first calling Sen’s correspondence with Indian Statistical Institute a correspondence with Pakistan’s ISI, and then completely changing the venue of Guha’s (person receiving said seditious letters from Sen) arrest from “Station Road” to “Mahindra Hotel”! Of course the honourable judge dismissed this as a “typographical error”. (Guha himself says he was arrested from the hotel and kept in solitary for 6 days before the official announcement and court appearance, but hey criminals will lie to besmirch a Ram-fearing government anyway).

    Two of the three police witnesses (the hotel managers) denied that Sen met Guha regularly at the hotel. No problemo. Declare then hostile. There was one more “trump card” witness. And who was this? A cloth merchant passing by the police station, called in as witness to “seditious” documents confiscated from Guha after his arrest from the said typographically variable location. This witness called in from the street, actually testified that he had “overheard” Guha say that he has got the letters from Sen wile he was in the police station. Wah bhai wah! What brilliant proof! But the court believed him. And the court is honourable.

    Hey plus he had Communist literature at home. Never mind that many Bengali and Malayali homes might even today have the same kind of literature. But the course thought that was seditious, and the court is honourable.

    On such bases are life sentences given out in India. Let us all pat our backs and congratulate ourselves on teaching that bloody, tribe-loving, development-hating, vigilante-army-opposing, bleeding-heart, anti-Hindu liberal a true lesson on democracy.

  35. Shan,

    As I said, from their own website, the books he had on him werent just Communist literature. They were pamphlets about spreading the revolution and about plans of action…..As to the rest of your “Let us all pat our backs and congratulate ourselves on teaching that bloody, tribe-loving, development-hating, vigilante-army-opposing, bleeding-heart, anti-Hindu liberal a true lesson on democracy” that does sound good as an emotional appeal, [By the way, where did the anti-Hindu come in….baiting are we here?] but doesn’t stand upto the facts.

    Which is that Binayak Sen was passing, again not denied by his own supporters, non-violent operational plans of Naxals of spreading the agitation to urban areas and factories. He was aiding and abetting a banned organization. According to the law, that’s a crime. Again my point was to look at the greyness of the situation without resorting to the black-and-white of “Let us all pat our backs and congratulate ourselves on teaching that bloody, tribe-loving, development-hating, vigilante-army-opposing, bleeding-heart, anti-Hindu liberal a true lesson on democracy” type.

  36. Dr Sen’s life term shows how colonial our judges’ mindset is. In a governance system like ours, police was never expected to do better than what it did, but it was not expected from a judge. Judges are known to be corrupt, bribable, gullible.. aand to give such a judgement on such a sensitive case is perversion.

  37. Naxalism is nothing but political fundamentalism.The cause might be noble but the means is pure violence.

    Binayak Sen’s smile is so sweet and gentle that I want to believe him, he fits in well with the other celebrities.. but it is surely not that black and white. I agree with Arnab, grey actions should have grey consequences.

  38. @Arnab: There is no mention that the documents outlined plans to disrupt democracy. Just possessing communist or Maoist tracts is no crime – at least I hope not yet in India. I can possess Maoist literature just to study their philosophy. Binayak Sen has publicly mentioned, as has his wife, that he has always opposed “revolution” by violence that the CPI(ML) advocates. He has always been an advocate of peaceful dissidence. I am surprised that you think that possession of literature is enough to convict anyone of sedition, especially as there is no evidence that the “literature” was about violent plans of the Maoists. Person after person have been quoted saying that the Binayak Sen they knew was one of the gentlest persons they had known, whose only desire was to help the poor. But that counts for nothing. But the court chooses to believe the hearsay of a single person! That doesn’t bother you? It is clear that Binayak Sen has been made an example of – by hook or by crook, and I will be very interested to see how the SC disposes of this case. Unfortunately what this travesty has done is condemn him to another couple of years in jail. That does not bother you either, I presume. After all he has Maoist literature. Shocking anti-national activity.

    Also, assuming that he broke the law by possessing such literature (and I really need to tell my friends hide my copy of the Satanic Verses and Nine Hours to Rama now) he has already spent years in jail for that. The obvious thing would be to release him after conviction on those charges. But no. The judge has such wide powers under the 1916 Sedition Law that he can announce a year to Life for the same crime!

    The one thing you have to admit is that this judgment is so callous, and transparently biased, that even hardcore anti-Maoists (yes, like me, believe it or not – I have written numerous posts on FB opposing their philosophy, and a close friend’s sister lost an arm in the train bombing) have been forced to suddenly realize how people can be oppressed by the state. I am evidently not the only one – the lack of the normal congratulatory reactions even from the right wing political parties has shown that even they are embarrassed by the sheer OTT-ness of the verdict.

    The issue is not about Maoism. Maoists can rot in hell for all I care. It’s about our judicial system and how any of us in India can be made a victim by the state if we dare to protest. We seem to be going the China and Burma way and I am surprised about the lack of that understanding in many. Right wing Islamism is not the only danger our country faces. This danger is as clear and present as right-wing terrorism.

    [As for the “anti-Hindu” bit, there already have been commenters on this post who have started their right wing advocacy on this topic as well. And that was a response to them. BTW, as has been made clear on this blog by multiple commenters, aren’t all liberals by definition anti-Hindu and anti-Indian? :)]

  39. Shan,

    You write: “. The obvious thing would be to release him after conviction on those charges. But no. The judge has such wide powers under the 1916 Sedition Law that he can announce a year to Life for the same crime!”

    If you would indulge me in the privilege of reading my post once again (I assume you did at least once) you would see that I have written exactly the same thing. (The law itself says 3 years for the kind of facilitation that Dr. Sen did).

    Marxism is not illegal in this country but Naxal parties are. Possessing their pamphlets and transmitting them is a crime. Just as possessing SIMI pamphlets would be a crime even if the content itself does not contain a call for or plans for violence. Again a point I made in the post. To repeat, yes yet another point made in the post, the whole “I oppose the Naxalist’s violent methods but support their aims” is also not a defense when we are talking about a banned organization (note once again the SIMI example).

    The people whom Dr. Sen supports and fights for *are* murderers, extortionists and looters. Dr. Sen directly is not. That is why I said this case is very grey—when does one go from facilitation to democratic dissent? Maybe for people used to seeing the world in terms of bookish black-and-whiteness, Bush-is-bad-Obama-is-good, Fox-is-biased-MSNBC-is-fair, this twilight region might be difficult to comprehend.

  40. @ Shan
    You wrote: “The issue is not about Maoism. Maoists can rot in hell for all I care”.

    Response:
    It is rather funny, that on one hand you are hyperventilating in support of someone who has, at the least, promoted Maoist ideology (may not have committed actual acts of violence); and then on the other hand you put a caveat about “Maoists rotting in hell”.

    This seems to be line of propaganda being followed by most people who are supporting Binayak Sen.

    Please remember that violence is intrinsic and fundamental to the Naxal ideology. That is the reason they broke away from the Communist movement in India.

  41. @great bong – I have to commend you on mentioning that we need to take the legal facts and not emotional ones, but I am afraid you resorted to the latter. I am not sure how you landed up with the argument that Dr. Sen fights for murderers and extortionists. He has repeatedly condemned Maoist violence. There is zero evidence to prove the claim that he couriered the letters. All prosecution witnesses testified to the contrary. He met Narayan Sanyal in the presence of the jailer. The only thing he admitted to having was communist literature and this is cannot be a crime in a democratic country. What we see here is a farcical case. I can’t claim with absolute certainty if this was due to pressure applied by the state govt or not. In either case lack of evidence makes this judgement extremely fishy. If the charge were simply that Dr Sen opposed the state, I am sure he would have pled guilty, for the state in this case is an oppressive regime. Dr. Sen expresses his opposition non-violently, which is different from Maoist ideology. The means in thus case are as important as the ends and Dr. Sen has never subscribed to violence.

  42. http://rogerfacts.blogspot.com/2010/12/case-against-and-for-maoists-naxalites.html

    A quick clarification. When I said I do not know about
    the case, I meant exactly that. While commenting on the topic, I saw scores
    of articles comments & pieces on the net. I did briefly browse quite a few
    of those. What his friends, wife, lawyers or PUCL fellow members & activists may be saying or screaming from the rooftops is not quite relevant and obviously slanted for various reasons in any case. As slanted and pointless as comments I came across on some forums by a cross-section of readers which stated that he should be hanged, shot, thrown to the wolves etc., for having colluded with killers and murderers.

    Well, comment of any kind is free and the tainted Indian print & TV media, desperate to grab ‘breaking news’ of one kind or another indulges in it to ridiculous extents often. In addition there are the so-called opinion
    leaders, special interest groups and the general public who are ever ready
    to voice their opinion and argue topics about which often they know very
    little or nothing.

    However this particular case has been decided on by a court of law and if at
    all the judgment delivered is to be modified or amended in any way, it is
    only a higher court of appeal that can do that. No amount of song and dance
    in any forum or repetition of certain views & opinions which have no
    substantive basis will help and should not either as that would mean
    subverting the legal process which is fraught with deadly implications. So, anything anyone says without any expertise of legal affairs or knowledge of legal statutes or even without doing some research on the basics of the case
    as I have mentioned earlier is at best shooting the shit.

    I am not a legally trained professional. I have no access to the transcripts
    of the court proceedings or even summaries of those over the 3.5 years that
    the case went on. Even if I had I wouldn’t quite know how to interpret them
    as per applicable statutes. I wouldn’t quite know why exactly the High Court
    & the Supreme Court struck down the bail application of the accused
    initially and why subsequently, on appeal, the Supreme Court granted it. I
    have no access to the 95 page judgement (written in Hindi as is fairly
    common in Hindi speaking states). Even if I had it, I wouldn’t quite
    understand the particular provisions of the law the judge had considered
    while coming to certain conclusions based on the court proceedings and the evidence & arguments presented by both the sides. Therefore I do not know
    about such matters and never quite will. And I consider it ludicrous to
    express opinions of one kind or another on any topic about which I have
    little knowledge and no expertise.

  43. @ vinay Bhatt
    You were Not like this when you joined University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

    Years of brainwashing by AID and now you are a Naxal apologist?

    You are smart enough to know that Sen will never admit to sedition. Isn’t it ironic that Gandhi, of all people is being co-opted by Maoist sympathizers.

    When did u graduate? Where are you now?

  44. @Shan

    Person after person have been quoted saying that the Binayak Sen they knew was one of the gentlest persons they had known, whose only desire was to help the poor. But that counts for nothing. But the court chooses to believe the hearsay of a single person!

    Welcome to the real world where “the hearsay of a single person” is known as the testimony of a witness. And it only matters if you break the law or not, nobody could care less if he was the long lost son of Mother Teresa by Gandhi. If you have a problem with it then campaign to change the law, not argue its selective enforcement or the motives of its enforcer.

    aren’t all liberals by definition anti-Hindu and anti-Indian

    No. Liberals by definition are a self-obsessed lot who refuse to grow beyond their teens. Periodically they indulge in anti-national rhetoric and other controversial (read moronic) opinions to get an audience/reaction. Much like a child throws a tantrum.

  45. There are actually a couple of fairly nuanced issues in the Vinayak Sen case, which I will come to in a bit.

    Personally, I do believe that it is possible to be sympathetic to an ideology without adhering to it in all counts, for e.g., it is possible to sympathize with the Maoist aim of stopping the exploitation of the tribals without believing that the only way to do so is to blow up police stations, similarly it is possible to believe that Muslims are exploited in India by the Hindu majority without supporting the bomb explosions in Mumbai. There is no absolute right or wrong in either of the above beliefs- there is an absolute wrong in supporting violence.

    The question then is, what activity does the State have the right to consider criminal? Again, it is not what the State considers criminal that matters, but what it can (as a legitimate state with democratic values) consider criminal. That is why in India there is a process for challenging a legislation which goes against the fundamental rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. If the State overreaches its authority to control the life of its citizens, the Constitution guarantees certain inalienable rights which cannot be taken away. This to me, is the fundamental philosophy of my country.

    Vinayak Sen’s case has two facets, one whether his activities can be considered criminal under the law as it now stands, and two, whether even if under the law as it now stands the conviction is valid, the state is correct in prosecuting him?

    The answer to the first question is essentially a matter of evidence and a matter of judicial procedure. The fundamental things to remember is, under the Indian law of evidence that applies to criminal matters, guilt must be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”. Unfortunately from the publicly available information, this standard does not appear to have been met (I do not have access to the judgment or the summary of evidence so this is entirely based on newspaper reports). There are so many holes in the prosecution’s case that even the fundamental evidence in the prosecution’s favour, the testimony of a businessman and the recovery of propaganda material, can themselves be doubted. Courts have dismissed charges for much lesser doubt on evidence, and given the circumstances, the question that inevitably arises is, was the Sessions court considering evidence on its own merit or was it subject to an external influence.

    The second, and more important question is, what can the State prosecute? Is supporting an ideology itself a criminal offence, is assisting in the legal defense of a person accused of Maoist terrorism itself an offence, is writing a press opinion saying that there is some good in what the Maoists have done enough to be prosecuted? Is being associated with, or carrying material printed by a banned organization a criminal offence? Is getting a job for a person “suspected” Maoist a crime? To my mind, in a legitimate country, committed to democracy, it cannot be so, unless the acts can themselves be definitively linked to an act of violence. I agree that “Dr. Sen’s record of altruism is neither here nor there and should have no bearing on whether he is a criminal or not” but as a citizen of India, I do have the right to decide whether what he has done (or indeed alleged to have done) is criminal or not.

    Yes, I have heard the recurring argument, why protect the human rights of a person who has killed others, don’t the victims have human rights? The argument is self-defeating. A state, cannot, should not, act in the same manner as individuals, and when it guarantees certain rights, including the right or being considered innocent till proven guilty, or the right not to give evidence against oneself, or the right against torture, it must do so on all counts, irrespective of the villainity of the Act that may have led to the derogation of the right. What the state has to be acutely conscious of is the “slippery slope”, once you start taking away certain rights, you move rapidly towards a situation where no rights are respected.

    Finally, I have not seen the provisions of the Chhattisgarh Act, but Dr. Sen was also found guilty under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. Section 124A (Sedition) punishes a person, who through spoken or written words, signs etc. “excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India”. The word “disaffection” has been explained to include disloyalty and all feelings of enmity. While the Section does state that comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section, it is difficult to imagine how criticism will not excite “disaffection”. Unfortunately, if this Section is used literally, no opposition leader or no opponent of the Government will ever be safe and therefore, this charge is rarely invoked by the Government prosecution agencies and therefore, the furore when its is invoked against an intellectual who cannot legitimately be accused of having actually taking actions to spread violence.

    More interestingly, Section 124 A, before being amended in 1949 and 1951 referred to offences against “Her Majesty” and was punishable by “Transportation for life”. Unfortunately, the substance of the section was not amended.

  46. This was nicely written.

    i’m pretty sure the martyr argument (if Dr Sen is made one) will be further used by the naxalites to further their own rhetoric of “look how awful the government is”.

    I would like to see a reasonable argument from Dr Sen’s supporters. Most of them are so childish and naive that they run the risk of being dismissed outright even if their case is a valid one.

  47. GB, what’s with your responses to comments? I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now, and have noticed in the last few months excessive sarcasm and almost vitriolic short-temper whenever you respond to comments. Please go back and review. And don’t give the lame – it’s-my-blog-foff-if-you-don’t-like-it.

  48. Sanjay,

    Where here did I say “Its my blog foff if you dont like it?” Or is my mere response to your comment a sign of short-temperedness or would silence be interpreted as arrogance?

  49. @Vinay Bhatt: With regards to your statement The only thing he admitted to having was communist literature and this is cannot be a crime in a democratic country.
    Do we know what those literature state? What if the communist literature explicitly states killing civilians? Or killing CRPF jawans who are deployed because normal policing has failed? What if your so-called communist literature states to overthrow democratically elected government thru violent war and ISI supplied RDX or IEDs? Or if such literature explicitly urges followers to hang legitimate business owners? And so on and so forth … … Do we know what exactly the literature recovered from Dr. Sen’s home state? Its time to shun Maobadi of every kind – the ‘peaceful’ ideologue to the gun-totting cadre!!

    As for Dr. Sen not supporting Maoist violence … umm …. let me think … reminds me of our western neighbour We do not support any form of terrorism but offer moral sympathy for Kashmiri mujahideens … your Maobadi boss sounds like them.

    Finally, if there is no evidence against him (as you seem to believe), wouldn’t it be better if you let courts decide what exactly is evidence and whats not? And as of now, the court found reasonable evidence – so, till higher courts decide otherwise, wouldn’t it be prudent to accept him guilty?

    It has become so typical of the red and green jihadis to eulogize the courts as long as the verdict is for them – the moment verdict goes against them, there is invariably some “miscarriage of justice” as we repeatedly hear with Ayodhya or Afzal Guru or as of now, with Dr. Sen.
    ———————————————
    PS – On a separate note and coming from Naxal area, I completely acknowledge failure of governance in tribal areas or police attrocities – BUT I don’t believe terrorism as a solution of bad governance, no matter how bad the government is …. governance failed in Bihar too & they didn’t reform thru terrorism

  50. I would contend that CSPSA is undemocratic. My argument is based on the simple fact that no matter what the crime – any crime committed by any citizen in India – should lead to the citizens arrest – yes – but also entitle the citizen to defend himself in court. Now if Dr. Sen is presumed guilty for defending naxalites in court or being sympathetic to them – this is a clear contradiction of our constitution. By law – you are entitled to defense by an attorney and by law you are not guilty unless a court convicts you otherwise. The state can not bend this when it suits them.

    If having mere proof of a crime was enough to label people criminal – we could have just hung Ajmal Kasab at gateway and walk away with a feel-good insta justice. But having a video tape of Kasab shooting people is not sufficient – it has to be seen by a court and the court has the power to hang him.

    So I would say CSPSA runs the risk of assuming people guilty until proven innocent.

    – Sanket

  51. I would contend that CSPSA is undemocratic. My argument is based on the simple fact that no matter what the crime – any crime committed by any citizen in India – should lead to the citizens arrest – yes – but also entitle the citizen to defend himself in court. Now if Dr. Sen is presumed guilty for defending naxalites in court or being sympathetic to them – this is a clear contradiction of our constitution. By law – you are entitled to defense by an attorney and by law you are not guilty unless a court convicts you otherwise. The state can not bend this when it suits them.

    If having mere proof of a crime was enough to label people criminal – we could have just hung Ajmal Kasab at gateway and walk away with a feel-good insta justice. But having a video tape of Kasab shooting people is not sufficient – it has to be seen by a court and the court has the power to hang him.

    So I would say CSPSA runs the risk of assuming people guilty until proven innocent.

  52. Hey GB,
    I’m usually nodding my head in agreement as I read your posts, but not today. If I may;

    1. “Also just because corrupt officials go unpunished should not excuse Dr. Sen, should he be guilty” This is nobody’s case. Nobody wants to excuse or condone Binayak because corrupt officials roam free. The sentiment is merely ‘look how unjust this is’. And it is! Where convenient the State prosecutes with a terrifying ferocity and where not, it happily connives, adjusts and forgets.

    2. “think we can all agree that if you have a stash of Playboys in your cabinet, one can safely say that you like women.” I get that this was said in half-jest but it sounds as Kafkaesque as anything I’ve ever heard. Last I checked being a Maoist sympathiser is not a punishable offence.

    3. What is a punishable offense is your “facilitation for members of unlawful organizations”. Unless this provision is severely read down it would appear to be blatantly unconstitutional. As a doc he probably treats wounded Naxalites. Is that facilitation? What about giving Naxalites legal advice and representation? If Ram Jethmalani committing an offence by assisting Binayak if it is proven that he was a member of an unlawful organisation. I’d like to see how that case plays out 🙂

    4. “one needs to ask are we willing to let these people use the shield of democracy to push forward their anti-democratic final agenda”. GB, this is the OLDESSSSST antidemocrattic argument in the book. It has been used by the most dictatorial figueres and regimes such as Stalin, the East German Govt, Sen. McCarthy and our own Gungi Gudiya to name but a few. Each though (like CHina thinks) that their country and society is weak and must be sheltered from insidious philosophies and insulated from “undemocratic” thought. That the very act is undemocratic and oppressive is just as obscure to them as it is clear to the rest of the world. The worst crimes have been committed not in the quest of Darth Vader-esque universal domination but rather in the name of freedom, democracy and unity. I’m very surprised to see you tilt in that direction or indeed even offer it as an option!

    cheers as always.
    Sushrut

  53. The previous comment by lexferanda sums up my objections to your post (I did find it somewhat informative, by the way). Anyway, one of the most flawed arguments you make is: “we can all agree that if you have a stash of Playboys in your cabinet, one can safely say that you like women”.

    Does that mean that one is fascist if Mein Kampf and/or Triumph of the Will is found in his home?

  54. I freely admit that I don’t know the exact details of the legal case itself. But from what I’ve read and heard so far, it seems to me as though the good doctor was ideologically inclined towards the Maoist cause. The problem is that the “cause” goes much beyond pure ideology. Does he support the violence? He emphatically denies that. But by agreeing with and, arguably, supporting the ideology, is he implicitly supporting the violence and terrorism? The answer to that question is what should decide his guilt.

  55. Hi GB,
    I think that some of the ensuing outrage internationally and locally about Dr Sen’s judgement would have come to your notice.
    I hope that it has caused you to change your views.
    I also hope that it would encourage you to retract some of the hyperbole that you have written in this post.
    To quote but 2,
    You contend that Sanyal was a dangerous and wanted criminal.
    I would like to bring your attention to this article in The Hindu, dated 27 Dec, 2010.
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article995827.ece
    It details the Sanyal story and makes the pertinent observation that the 74 year old Sanyal, who was jailed for the suspected involvement in the murder of H Markam, had additional charges slapped on hastily after the Binayak Sen bail petition was rejected. The issue of his being a “dangerous maoist” is dealt with in some detail here.

    2. Your contention that Sen and his wife had been instrumental in acquiring jobs for wanted terrorists must refer to Ms Srivastava, PhD student from Allahabad, who has been missing since 2006, and who was labelled a maoist in absentia by the police. While the case is still ongoing, the police have not been able to produce any evidence as to why she should be labeled so. Prof Ilina Sen was instrumental in getting her a job, but the issue of helping a maoist (itself an allegation riddled with loopholes) does not arise.

    Copies of Sanyal’s letters are availablein the public domain. Apart from ruminations on Mr. Sanyal’s health, the letters castigate an unnamed associate for failing to maintain regular contact, congratulate others for completing the ninth Congress and urge the reader to concentrate on propaganda as “propaganda is overwhelming people. They are able to influence conceptions and thinking, knowing that they are corrupt and anti-people.”

    Dr Sen’s case and the inconscionable tarnishing of the man in the public domain is our collective shame. Noted intellectuals in the country like Ram Guha and Amartya Sen have come out openly in his support. More than 22 nobel laureates signed a petition for his bail plea in 208. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have commented on the case and described it as a travesty of justice. Grassroots human rights organisations like Centre for Health and Social Justice and Medico Friends Circle have produced petitions and detailed explanations on the judgement and why they believe that the evidence was fabricated.

    You should read them. I am sure that you will find them interesting, and realise how public opinion has been manipulated in this case, describing Dr Sen as a “Maoist sympathiser” or simply a “maoist” and PUCL as a terrorist organisation. Detailed reading of PUCL’s disagreement with the police will point out to you the ongoing friction between the fact finding missions by a group of Human Rights organisations into the Salwa Judum in Dec 2005.
    Please also refer
    http://www.rediff.com/news/report/column-the-flawed-case-against-binayak-sen/20101229.htm

    I am making out such a long post to point out two of the honest but glaring fallacies in your post.

    It is my humble opinion (vestigial indian obsequiousness – please excuse) that you owe your readers an apology, because you have chosen to comment on the case without full cognisance of the facts of the case. In doing so, you have misled some and alienated others, and more importantly, contributed in the unfortunate state-sponsored tarnishing and demonisation of Dr Sen.

    Regards,
    ND

  56. GB – No, silence is not interpreted as arrogance nor a response short-temperedness (BTW, this line of yours is again sarcastic/condescending – I am tempted to rest my case – unless you think that I’m being over sensitive here).

    My comment was meant to be constructive criticism – take it or leave it, but please read a few of your past responses before reaching a conclusion.

    And, I had said DON’T use “Its my blog foff if you dont like it” while replying, instead of implying that you had said that.

  57. I will admit that I know a lot about the case 🙂 (unlike many commentators here). I have spent ~25 years in Chhattisgarh (CG) close to Bastar district and other towns. So I do believe that I might have more information about the real life issues and politics of the region. With my credentials out of the way, here is from the lens of someone who lived through these issues:

    1. The situation is extraordinary in CG. Think of 70’s in WB (parallels for many bongs here) and late 80’s in Punjab. Extraordinary situation demands extraordinary responses. Check out the death rate of policemen and tribals in CG. It is off the charts. I wont be surprised if it gives a competition to Kashmir. In some instances naxalites have killed more than 70-80 policemen within a couple hrs by ambushing their vehicles in deep jungles and mercilessly shooting to kill (yes, they are clear that they shoot to kill). there is no hostage taking or any boundaries that typical warring nations / parties follow

    2. Whatever ideology one follows the real life manifestation is that there are hard core elements (in fact they have taken over softer left) in Naxal movement many of whom have been criminals (in regular police cases) and their purpose to join the movement is not ideological but totally personal

    3. Govt (admittedly there is a lot of corruption) has tried to bring progress to hinterlands by building roads, schools, communication and spurring economic activities. Naxalites almost always oppose it (as it challenges their fiefdom) and whereever they cant blow things they are involved in coercive money taking (hafta) from the contractors. BTW, whereever there has been roads / schools, the villages have prospered disproportionately

    4. Even Binayak Sen has not dirtied his hands in day to day lives of a common CG man. He was a respectable doctor (BTW even without degree doctors, called “jhola chaap” in CG are highly respected as in deep rural areas there is noone to serve) who had enough to have a pretty good life. Agreed that he did work more than a common doctor, but he is by no means someone like Mahatma Gandhi or a revolutionary who really gets involved. So let us just take away this aura from him. Also, even with the buffonery of prosecution and some patchy evidences, no one can claim that he is not supporting a killer operation. Anyone who distinguishes between soft naxalism and hard naxalism is treading on thin ice and has not really experienced the reality. There is only one naxalism and that one kills just about anyone on its way

    5. Finally, as judge Verma noted, he could have gone for least sentence but he did go for the jugular as the situation is extraordinary. The people Mr Sen worked for and openly supports / evangelizes cause are killing tribals (yes, the biggest casuality is the tribals and they get killed more by naxals then the police as JNU types, Roy, Azmi and Akhtar would have you believe) and ruthlessly slaughtering policemen, govt official and common joes

    Terrorism is fought with an iron-fist and nerves of steel. Nowhere in the world (including WB where even the leftist govt had to crush the naxal movement, Kashmir, Sri Lanka or take any other example) had this scourge been solved in any other way. People who won’t resort to peaceful means and are extremely violent / killers need to be spoken with in their language. Once the hardcore elements are crushed, they realize that they are not invincible and then they come to the discussion table. CG has just started on this journey (with lot of hiccups and nothing much to show) and the verdict in Binayak Sen’s case is just a small chapter. Sen chose his path knowing fully well that it is treacherous and he was playing with fire. The sentence is just and should be seen as a thread within a broad tapestry and not an isolated case.

  58. If he is just being jailed for possessing Maoist reading material or for carrying cash for the lawyer of a naxal ( as long as the money itself is legal, and not some ransom money), does not make him guilty. I dont think there is any shade of gray involved simply because its just a case of dissenting point of view, not a call for sedition or violence. If he is accusing the state of being a Hindu state committing violence against muslims and tribals, it makes more sense if someone files something like a case of defamation against him ( for tarnishing the image of the country etc.) . At worst he is akin to a thief who is just waiting for lax security to commit a crime; his intentions maybe already known to all but he cant be tried for a crime he did not commit. Unless of course, its an emergency or we are the proverbial banana state.

  59. “Searches of his house revealed ultra-Left literature and I think we can all agree that if you have a stash of Playboys in your cabinet, one can safely say that you like women.”

    I tend to disagree. Presence of ultra left literature in one’s house does not necessarily mean he is a ultra left sympathizer. I have all sorts of literature in my house because these are reading materials. I as an observer, thinker, activist would need to read all sorts of things so that I am informed and I make informed decisions.

  60. “I think we can all agree that if you have a stash of Playboys in your cabinet, one can safely say that you like women.”

    Not really, if i am the State, i have enough resources at my disposal to plant n number of playboys in a gay man’s cabinet. That does not ‘safely’ make him like women.

  61. people are arguing about possession of leftist lit.. that is not the crime on which he has been prosecuted.. he has been prosecuted on a variety of things (actively supporting naxals including financial help, being a channel for money flow, making connections for the naxals etc).. there is a strong case for active support / facilitation / evangelism..

    GB – you said “But the terms of imprisonment according to the law, are in the range of two to three years and definitely not life. This is why I strongly believe that Dr. Sen’s punishment will be overturned by the Supreme Court”
    It is factually incorrect. check out IPC code 124 (A) under which Sen is prosecuted. the sentence can be up to 3 yrs + fine (if needed) or life imprisonment + fine (if needed).. in fact, the interesting bit is under this code, there are just 2 options: up to 3 yrs (one can nitpick that this constitutes infinite options but i am suggesting at an abstract level) OR life.. the judge felt that the crimes are graver than the ones punishable by 3 years so he HAD to go for life… I for one support it given the codes and the options in front of the judge.. maybe the higher courts will overrule or reduce the sentence.. but in the context of what is happening in CG, this is a fair judgement

  62. @Observer – “he has been prosecuted on a variety of things (actively supporting naxals including financial help, being a channel for money flow, making connections for the naxals etc).” – can you share the source of your information ? There seems to be a lot of divergence of views around what exactly is the crime Dr Sen has committed.

    Reports in the mass media seem to indicate that he has been convicted of sedition for “acting as a courier of letters” (see this link http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Binayak-Sen-gets-life-in-jail-on-sedition-charge/articleshow/7159565.cms ). Interestingly, Sen has been acquitted of charges of waging war against the state.

  63. @Observer

    With all due respect for your experience and credentials, as an attorney, I do know something about how the judiciary functions even if I don’t litigate very much.

    Judges are not supposed to look at “conditions” which are unrelated to the charges against the accused. And your contention that the only options were 3 years and life imprisonment is rather absurd. Going for the jugular is hardly good judicial practice!
    If there are exceptional circumstances, make special courts and laws, as has been done in J&K and the North-East and try him under those. But if that is not done, or the charges against him are outside the purview of those special courts/laws, then the case must be viewed objectively as per the norms followed all over the country. A Sessions Court doesn’t have special latitude in applying it’s powers just because the state it is in has seen violent activities.

    A fair trial is guaranteed to every citizen of the nation, whether or not popular imagination deems them a terrorist. If he was not given that, his rights have been violated and no iron-fist policy can justify an unfair trial.
    I trust you when you say that the conditions in Naxal affected areas are quite horrific. That doesn’t mean Sen is guilty.

    I’m not sure where you got your facts from, but so far, I’ve not come across a single report which talks about any sort of strong evidence for sedition. If you can point me to one which does, I’ll be happy change my opinion.

    GB is correct. The penalty he mentioned was for criminal facilitation under the CSPSA. Not Sedition under Section 124A of the IPC. If my memory serves me right, section 124 talks about creating hatred, contempt or disaffection against the government. There seems little evidence for anything of the sort.

  64. Pingback: The Binayak Sen Digest -1 | Cerebral Salad

  65. Natasha –

    I am not a lawyer but it is eminently clear that you havent read the judgement. Here are the links (read page 90-92 for the sentences):

    http://www.binayaksen.net/wp-content/uploads/judgement-dec2010.pdf (true copy)

    http://kafila.org/2010/12/31/full-text-the-binayak-sen-judgement-english-translation/ (english translation)

    All three, Sanyal, Guha and Sen are convicted under 7 different sections including CSPSA, 124A + 120B and couple of codes of unlawful activities prevention act 1967.

    On page 89 of the judgement, the judge mentions why he went for the max sentence rather than the min as the defence was requesting. Do review that too.

    Finally, see this link on sec 124 A that clearly outlines the penalties:

    http://www.vakilno1.com/bareacts/IndianPenalCode/S124A.htm

    Krishna – read the 92 pages of judgement if you are really interested. hopefully, you wont have any questions left

    Innocent people are being butchered by naxals. follow the money and ammunition trail and you will land in China. just do the math on how can naxals fight this war with latest weapons. it is a multi-billion dollar operation. who is behind them financially? who is supplying them the guns and ammunitions? Naxal’s constituent (what they claim) are ultra poor people who can’t even afford food let alone pay them to buy weapons. Money is coming from somewhere, right?

    this is the biggest issue in front of India and people like Sen, Sanyal and Guha are traitors. The seemingly progressive media (do i have to remind who Barkha, Veer are working for) and people with romantic notions who havent done any physical labor and enjoy cozy lifestyle (i guess many of us + folks like Azmi and Roy) are part of the problem. At best they have scales on their eyes and at worst they are helping sedition. Send them to live a couple years (not a fancy choreographed visit) in Bastar and see how they run for their lives. Given their lifestyle, they will be the first ones to be killed by the same murderers.

    It is time we wake up, start paying in kind and hope that we wont be ruled by the chinese in next few years.

  66. @Observer: “hope that we wont be ruled by the chinese in next few years.” Are you serious? The moment the Maoists decide to come out of dense forests and engage in conventional warfare, they will be decimated by the Indian army. Irrespective of what the bleeding-hearts and the conservatives feel, the Naxalites are not even going to get close to dislodge the Indian State.

    The tragic truth is a war of attrition lies ahead of us, and lot of innocent tribals will get killed in the crossfire.

    Maoists will loose for sure. It is uncertain, however, whether in near future the Indian State will be able to win the war against poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition.

  67. So much ado about nothing. A person facilitated and aided an inhuman terrorist and mass murderer. He got what he deserved in a constitutionally-mandated trial. Funny how all these pseudo-intellects don’t give a rat’s behind for all the innocents killed by the terrorists like Sanyal whom people like Sen support and help (a kind doctor, exactly like Dr.Mengele, Dr. Ayman Al Zawahiri, etc). I forgot. No one cries for the dead unless there is any live political mileage to be had. Next time terrorists like Sanyal and Kasab butcher loved family members of these pseudo idiots, let’s see if they still support those who facilitate such terrorism. Now that would be admirable.

    http://www.dailypioneer.com/306255/Spurious-protests-over-Binayak-Sen.html

    http://kiranasis.blogspot.com/2010/12/support-for-terror-courier-service.html

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