Chhattisgarh Cultural Program to Free Binayak Sen


This article was published on the blog Ajadhind.

If Binayak Sen is a Naxal, so am I – former Chief Justice of New Delhi

It’s two years and the government is yet to take any step for the doctor’s release

“Kick me, shake me, you can never break me” seemed to be the punch line of the emotionally charged ‘Free Binayak’ campaign held in Delhi on May 14. It marked the second year of imprisonment of human rights defender, Dr Binayak Sen, in Chhattisgarh.

The gathering saw hundreds of social activists, friends and supporters of Sen protesting against State atrocities through songs, poetry and straight-from-the-heart speeches. Participants voiced the need for a revolution and pledged their solidarity for the cause.

It started with a rendition Bob Dylan’s eternal classic, “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” It was performed by a group of youngsters – Ritwik, Pakhi and Tushar, and everyone joined in the chorus. This was followed by a folk song, Gulabidas’s Marjeeva, by feminist Deepta Ghosh.

Explaining the song, she said, “Marjeeva denotes the man who dives into an ocean for pearls. It tells us that a person has to struggle and suffer pain to emerge successful and better than ever. Binayak Sen is also facing a tough struggle, but I know that like the Marjeeva, he will be vindicated and get justice in the end.”

Former Chief Justice of Delhi, Rajinder Sachar, was also present. “Why are we having this show? To convince ourselves, even though we know the truth? This campaign would only be successful if awareness is created outside these walls, and people are mobilised against injustice. I am ashamed to be a part of the judiciary that has meted out an unfair sentence to Binayak Sen. If Binayak is a Naxal, so am I.”

Amidst thunderous applause, Sachar continued, “I appeal to everyone to start a satyagraha and a jail bharo campaign to get justice for him. I assure you that I shall be the first satyagrahi to go to jail if this happens.”

Filmmaker and poet, Gauhar Raza, stirred emotions with his poems.

“Lahu mein doobe yeh haath kab tak, rahenge dharma ke chaalak? (How long will these hands, soaked in blood, be the controllers of the people and religion?)”

The campaigners demanded the immediate release of Dr Sen on medical grounds, an urgent repeal of draconian laws like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005, the UAPA (amended), 2004 and immediate action to speed up trials of people who share Sen’s fate.

Author Arundhati Roy said, “Binayak’s imprisonment is unfair and must be repealed. The state has no evidence, and to complicate things, both the Congress and the BJP are in collusion to frame Sen. I appeal to all not to be frightened and fight against this injustice. Campaigns like these are the first step. Now, we must take things forward.”

Sen, a well-known paediatrician from Christian Medical College, Vellore, was a public-spirited doctor. Dedicated towards the cause of social good, he had spent nearly three decades providing medical services to the tribals of Chhattisgarh. It’s alleged that Sen was falsely implicated by the Chhattisgarh government. He was taken as a “Naxal supporter” after he raised his voice against the war waged by the State against its own people in the name of Salwa Judum. He has been in jail since May 2007 even as his health is deteriorating. Twenty-two Nobel laureates had signed a petition and sent to the prime minister appealing for Sen’s release. As yet, nothing has been done, learnt Hardnews.

Supporters and friends of Sen, like Kaustav, feel that it’s time people united to get justice for a man who brought about a change for the people of his country. “People like Binayak Sen and Lalit Mehta are honest, sincere, upright and committed for the social good. That’s what every Indian should be like, if we want to be a truly great State. However, when instances like Binayak’s case, and the killing of Lalit take place, even those who are interested in changing people’s lives are disheartened. Let’s all get together and act now, to ensure that such things don’t happen again,” he said.

The campaign reminds of Faiz’s powerful poem,

Hum Dekhenge:
Hum mehkumoon ke paaon tale,
Yeh dharti dhad dhad dhadkegi,
Aur ahl-e-hukum ke sar upar,
Jab bijli kad kad kadkegi…Hum dekhenge…

We, the oppressed,
shall see the day,
when beneath our feet this earth will live and thrive
And heads of rulers will be struck by crackling lightening
and thunder would roar…
We shall see the day…

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