Indian Workers Association, GB: “Raise Voice Demanding the Release of Political Prisoners Who Are in Indian Jails Under Sedition Charges!”
To All Those Who Cherish Democratic Values — The judiciary of the so-called biggest democracy on this planet has once again shown to the world that it is partisan, undemocratic and oppressive as it is wrongfully punishing renowned Dr. Binayak Sen, a doctor who always served the people, and two others, Narayan Sanyal and Piyush Guha. The three have been punished under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Public Safety Law of Chhattisgarh (CSPPA), and 124-A and S 120 clauses of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). These special clauses of sedition were introduced by the British colonialist rulers in India to suppress the rightful rebellions of the Indian people against the colonialist rulers. These black clauses are not only retained in penal code of ‘free’ India, rather, many new laws of such kind are made and being enacted to suppress the will of the people. The rulers are aggressively using these new laws against the people to stifle them.
The punishment slapped on Binayak Sen, Narayan Sanyal and Piyush Guha is totally unjustified. The legal arguments on which the judge has relied for his decision are unfounded, shallow and pathetic and even not in resonance with the ethics of the Indian judicial system. The decision of the court has not wondered those, including the related families, law experts, civil and human rights organisations and democratic people, who took a keen interest in the case right from the time of arrests of these three men. Only those have been taken aback who were in the dark about this farce of a trial due to the blackout imposed by a section of the media. Those who were seriously concerned with the court proceedings from day one were well aware of the farce being played by the Chhattisgarh police and agencies of the establishment who had distorted facts and fabricated false evidence. The police officials continuously changed their statements and regularly supplied the court with fictitious facts in an attempt to secure strict punishment for the victims. The court did take no notice of the distortion of facts and false stories pushed in by the police officials. Everything was pre-planned and the accused were handed down punishment in accordance with the wishes of the state machinery. The real astonishing thing in all this is prejudiced attitude of the judicial system. While deciding about the final judgment the judge did not bother to take note of the fact that the police were unable to substantiate their accusations. On the other hand, the judge declared that the accused were unable to prove their innocence. Is there any possibility of a transparent and just decision in this kind of judicial practice?
The trial was spun around seventy four years old Narayan Sanyal. Police argued that he was comrade Prasad alias Bijoy, an ideologue of the CPI (Maoist). Narayan Sanyal was arrested from Bhadrachalam (Andhra Pradesh) in 2005. Many cases, including the murderous attack on ex-chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandra Babu Naidu, were registered against him at various places in the country. Another case of murder was also booked against him in which the State was unable to prove him guilty and thereby he was released. There were reports that other cases against him were also unfounded and about to be quashed soon. But the State had other plans up its sleeves. Just at that time Binayak Sen was arrested so as not to let Narayan Sanyal go free. Chhattisgarh police re-arrested Narayan Sanyal as soon as he was released declaring him a member of the Political Bureau of the CPI (Maoist) and a new trial was initiated against him. The police cited some reports published in the issues of the Peoples March magazine as a proof for this accusation. The police stated that the name Prasad mentioned in these reports as a member of the Polit Bureau is Prasad alias Bijoy and both these names were Narayan Sanyal’s party names. The police could furnish no solid proof against him as being involved in any anti-state action other than the above accusation. He was declared to be the architect of rebellion against the state on the basis of reports in the magazines and sentenced to life imprisonment. Even if he were a member of the political bureau he cannot be convicted and punished unless he is involved in some armed activity.
On the other hand, the police was bent on proving Binayak Sen as a link of the Maoists. To fulfill this objective, the police accused Binayak Sen and his wife Ilina Sen that both had been attending Maoist meetings in the jungle. As a proof the police stated that this they had heard from some people. The second proof furnished by the police was a Compact Disc. In fact, this CD is a film made during a fact finding mission of a human rights team recording evidence of police atrocities on the tribal people. The police even denied permission to the videographer who had shot the film to view it. The CD was just attached with the file as evidence. One of the major accusations against Binayak Sen was that he had met the Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal in the jail for 33 times. It was alleged that he used to collect letters from Narayan Sanyal in the jail and had been sending these to the underground leaders of the Maoist party. A part of the media had already branded him as a ‘Maoist Postman’ at the time of his arrest without ascertaining the facts. While the reality is that he used tro meet Narayan Sanyal after getting written permission from the jail authorities as president of the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and each time he had applied for permission on applications written on the letter-head of the PUCL. Even the police brass which appeared in the court had accepted that all these meetings were held in the presence and under strict watch of police and the secret agencies. As there is no possibility of collecting letters under such kind of tight security arrangements then where from those letters had come? It is as clear as day that these letters were forged and handiwork of the police itself.
Moreover, the police accused Mr. and Mrs. Sen that they were instrumental in securing jobs, arranging residence and opening of bank accounts for two Maoists named Shankar Singh and Malti. Most of the witnesses the police arranged went against the police version. However, the police declared that the witnesses had ‘backtracked’. To establish a relationship between Narayan Sanyal and Binayak Sen the police alleged that three letters were recovered from tendu leaf trader Piyush Guha and one from Mr. Sen’s house.
The letter that is alleged to be recovered from Mr. Sen’s house was not documented as an article recovered from the Sen’s residence with required signatures of Mr. Sen, the concerned police officer and an eye-witness. In fact this spurious letter was planted by the police afterwards to strengthen its case against Binayak Sen. The said letter was only a print-out taken from a computer. When the advocate defending Binayak Sen questioned the police about this they stated that the letter might have got lost in between some other papers so they could not get signatures on it as a recovered article. Similarly, the police stated in the Raipur court that the third accused Piyush Guha was arrested on road while the police while opposing the bail plea for Dr. Binayak Sen in the Supreme Court had stated in their affidavit that Piyush Guha was arrested from a hotel. In the same way, the police arranged an eye-witness who was alleged to be passing by the road while Piyush was being arrested. The crux of the matter is that all the witnesses and evidences the police furnished in the court to prove that the three accused were related to the Maoists and had close links among themselves so unfounded and barren that a neutral judge would have rejected the all such stories and claims by the police. The police had presented the three as members of the urban network of the Maoist party. The conspiracy stands entirely exposed. As the Maoist party is spearheading an armed struggle to overthrow the Indian State this was an easy argument on the part of the police to brand the three as conspirators who had made plans to wage war on the State and thus easy targets for handing down heavy sentence. The judge completely ignored the distortions, unlawful acts and concoctions made by the police throughout the trial. As a result, he declared the three as seditionists who had conspired against the state and sentenced them to life imprisonment. The mockery of the neutrality of the judiciary was complete.
Sedition, however, is quite a controversial issue. The Supreme Court had to take a strong notice of the government as it was using these clauses of the IPC indiscriminately and in a very hideous way. In the case Kedar Nath vs. Bihar State the Supreme Court had stated that according to the law sedition is defined as an act that provokes unrest against the state, therefore, before branding someone a seditionist it is imperative to keep in mind the freedom of expression of a person as guaranteed in the Indian constitution. One can be charged with sedition only when one has directly incited people for violence or as a result of which serious social disorder occurs. If someone’s speech or act does not lead to such a situation he cannot be branded as a seditionist. The irony is that the accusations made by the police and the ‘evidences’ provided by it against the three in no way correspond to the guidelines. The judge has utterly ignored the guidelines set by the Supreme Court and branded them as seditionists. On the contrary, this is an attack on the already limited freedom of expression which the constitution endows.
What the decision of the Additional Sessions Judge of Raipur proves? If a person of Dr. Binayak Sen stature can be kept in jail for two and a half years in spite of an international outrage of protests and then again sentenced to life imprisonment on the basis of fabricated and hollow evidence what the common people would be experiencing can be easily understood. Think of the people who are in jails in Kashmir, Nagaland, Assam, Manipur and other provinces of India! They are in tens of thousands and the list continues to grow daily. These victims of state terror are adivasis, dalits, religious minorities and national minorities who have nowhere to go and nobody listens. Majority of these victims have no such relations, friends and sympathizers who have the resources to take up their cause. But there are thousands who are incarcerated without trial. Here it is important to cite the prime minister’s statement that there is need to withdraw cases against one lakh innocent adivasis who are behind bars. Here, the prime minister had no sympathy for the adivasis while advocating withdrawal of cases against them. He was afraid that adivasi people in great numbers would join the Maoists if a situation like that continued. Presently, many people belonging to the trade unions, social activists and open mind journalists are behind bars under sedition charges.
A journalist Seema Azad (editor of Dastak) and her husband are in the jail for the last 11 months under sedition charges. Quite recently Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy and famous intellectual Varavara Rao, Professor SAR Geelani and others have been booked by police under sedition charges yielding to the pressure from the saffron brigade. They were charged so because they had spoken against the Indian government on the question of Kashmir in a seminar in Delhi. Similarly, Noor Mohammed Bhatt, a Lecturer of English language teaching in Gandhi Memorial College in J&K was arrested under UAPA because he had put a question to the students in an exam that what they think of the agitators who are confronting the security forces in Kashmir with stones. Indian rulers think that asking such questions is sedition against the country! On December 7, 2010, justice BG Kaulse Patil and Vaishali Patil and many other people were arrested by the Maharashtra police. They were all agitating against setting up of a nuclear project in Jaitapur. One should remember that this plant is being set up under the nuclear agreement with the USA, and this agreement is anti national. On the day Binayak and other two were sentenced another court in Chhattisgarh had sentenced the Indian chapter publisher of the famous revolutionary magazine A World To Win for an eight year prison term under sedition charges. The publisher Asit Kumar Sen Gupta is also a publisher of progressive literature. His case went un-noticed due to the heavy coverage given by the press to Binayak Sen and other two’s case. Though Binayak Sen case attracted widespread coverage and criticism due to agitations and protests around it but Asit Kumar Sen’s case is no less important. Just a few days back, on January 2, 2011, Sudhir Dhawle, editor of a progressive magazine Vidrohi (in Marathi language)and a dalit activist, was arrested by the Maharashtra police on sedition charges. He was pounded while he was travelling in a train going from Vardha to Bombay. He had gone to a place near Vardha to address a literary program, Ambedkar-Phule Literary Conference. Kopa Kunjam, an activist of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, was arrested in a false case accusing him of participating in an attack on the CRPF because he was active in organizing the people of Lohandi Guda against the corporate houses, which are forcibly acquiring their lands. After Binayak Sen’s case the Gujarat police has stepped up its activities to engage human rights activists, advocates and courageous journalists who have been opposing the government provoked post-Godhra carnage against Muslim community in 2002 or are pursuing legal cases against killers belonging to the saffron brigade and fascists, in false cases. Teesta Sitalvad, a renowned human rights activist, advocate MS Tirmizi and Rahul Singh, a senior journalist with the Headlines Today are being hounded by the police which is aggressively working on cases to be slapped on them for daring the Gujarat BJP government and the saffron fascists. They had pursued the case of Lunawada carnage in 2002 where innocent Muslim men, women and children were massacred and their bodies were buried away and the persons declared disappeared. At that time Rahul Singh was working with Sahara TV and he had played a big role in discovering the identity of dead bodies which had been buried as those of unknown persons. These are a few important and odious examples of event which are going on throughout India.
*This is happening in a country whose judiciary has not bothered about punishing those leaders of the Congress party and their goon brigades who were responsible for massacring thousands of Sikh religious minority community members. And it has been 26 years since!
*This judiciary has not bothered to punish the chief of corporate giant Union Carbide whose company was responsible for killing thousands of people and maiming many thousands more in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
*It is judicial system which has not bothered to punish the killers of Shankar Guha Niyogi, the famous trade union and political activist who fought for the rights and a sky for the mine workers, and instead, let them go scot free in spite of solid evidence against the saffron killers.
*This is the judiciary, with blinded eyes, which is unable to see the killers of the Muslim community members in Gujarat who have become more brutal and hardened and move around boasting about their criminal deeds.
*It is a judicial system, which takes no notice of the astronomical scams going on in a country where more than a billion people labour hard to create enormous wealth. Where the scamsters and gangsters of G-2 Spectrum, Common Wealth Games, Adarash Housing Society, Karnataka land grabbers, Fodders Eaters, Stamp Paper forgers, military top brass Sequesters, and above all, Bofors Money Gunners, with many more such scandalous events, which make a mockery of the “sacred” laws of the constitution under the very nose of this judiciary, coming in the open daily. And the rulers, who see or participate or look with blind-sight at all these happenings, are annoyed at the activists of the civil liberties and human rights activists, journalists, renowned advocates and law experts, trade unionists, publishers of progressive literature, writers, and social activists, and they are always ready to put them into jails under the charges of sedition. It shows that the political system of India caters to the plundering needs of a special section of society while ignoring the well being of labouring masses of oppressed, deprived and destitute people who live in great penury and go hungry to the bed every night.
*It is a land of scamsters, hoarders and corrupt bureaucrats, politicians, police and military top brass who make millions and billions of illegal money, all becoming a burden on the hapless people.
It is here that an additional session judge of Raipur, the capital of a state where the poorest of the poor have risen up and trying to take destiny into their own hands, has forced a people’s doctor, a Maoist ideologue and an ordinary trader to life imprisonment to spend the rest of their lives in the stinking dungeons of ‘great democracy’ in the name of sedition against the country!
*This indicates nothing else than the judiciary is working in the interests of the scamsters, looters, anti-people rulers, corrupt bureaucracy and fascist communalist and casteist forces who have a stake in this people-eating system. The latter use every disgraceful method to keep themselves in the seat of power and are busy in plundering the wealth of the country with impunity.
What is the real crime of The Three? They were raising their voice for the marginalized tribal people who are being uprooted from their lands so that their land, forests, and the enormous natural resources under their feet are opened up for the Indian and foreign corporate looters for exploitation. Binayak Sen, as the state president of the PUCL, had dared to bring out into the open the un-describable state atrocities on the tribal people during Salwa Judum that happened from 2005 to 2008. Salwa Judum was a state sponsored terror campaign of hired goondas and state armed forces that had massacred hundreds of tribal people, burning their entire villages, raping and devastated their economy on a massive scale to destroy their organized resistance, to control loot and plunder their lands in the State of Chhattisgarh. Binayak Sen and other civil and human rights activists, advocates and social activists had worked hard to bring to the notice of the world that Salwa Judum was a murderous bloody campaign that had brought into the open the brutal nexus among the state administration, police and security forces, corporate houses, like Tata, Essar and others. Faced with naked facts the Supreme Court had to intervene directing to the government that Salwa Judum should be stopped. The opposition to Salwa Judum had provoked the rulers and this was quite evident from various statements of politicians and police top brass. OP Rathor, the then Director General of Police in Chhattisgarh, had openly declared in the press: We will see what we can do to the PUCL. It was a clear pronouncement that the police will hound PUCL and other activists involved in the exposure of Salwa Judum and slap fabricated cases against them. As a result, Binayak Sen was arrested in May 2007 and put into jail on the charges of sedition against the state.
The sentencing of Binayak Sen indicates that all those who are opposing the Operation Green Hunt and anti-national and anti-people policies of the Indian rulers are going to meet a similar fate. The role of the government of India has just been reduced to a machinery for maintaining ‘peace’ to fulfil the interests of the corporate sector. The sphere of state repression and black laws is expanding in the ratio of increase of the bubble of liberalization, globalisation and privatization and the increasing resistance of the people towards their effects. Every person who is an eye sore for this anti-national nexus is going to be targeted by the rulers.
The history of the last four decades signifies that the rulers in Latin America, Africa, or China have increasingly resorted to kill democratic freedoms of the people to impose economic liberalisation. Our rulers are regularly resorting to the same pattern of oppression in the name of “national interests” against people who oppose it in a democratic way. Those who oppose these policies are all seditionists in the eyes of the rulers. The real seditionists are posing themselves as patriots as the saying goes: “Chor Uchchakka Chaudhary…’ and they are trying to bulldoze the real patriotic forces who are exercising their human duty trying to protect country’s enormous natural resources and its cheap labour from the unbridled loot and plunder by the corporate vultures, comprador rulers and bureaucracy.
No doubt, the struggle against the punishment accorded to Binayak Sen, Narayan Sanyal and Piyush Guha is of great importance. But the movement of justice loving people should not remain bounded to this question only. The struggle to force the rulers to abrogate all black laws and to defend the fundamental human rights is equally important. Indian jails are full of tens of thousands of such people who have been fighting for this cause. Most of them have not been part of any armed activity against the state. They are in the jails because they have different ideas. It is a blatant infringement of this fundamental right of a human being. No matter one looks at other’s ideas as wrong. The snatching away of these freedoms can never be allowed. There are tens of thousands of other innocent prisoners who are forced into jails just to make sure that the interests of the ruling classes are protected. We should all demand for their unconditional release. At the same time, we should demand that trials against the political prisoners should be conducted in a transparent way. The democratic forces should think seriously to how to ensure proper legal and medical aid for the political accused and prisoners. The democratic movement should take up and pursue all the cases of sedition. The demand to lift ban on CPI (Maoist) and all the revolutionary democratic and political organizations should be raised with more vigour. We should demand that along with the release of Binayak Sen, Narayan Sanyal and Piyush Guha all the black laws of the British period, especially the sedition clauses IPC of 124-A, and War against State clause (S-121), and post 1947 laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (that nearly covers more than 1/3 of present day India), the Chhattisgarh Special Security Act, and UAPA, and all such others, should be repealed. The Indian rulers are using these black laws indiscriminately to suppress the democratic aspirations, nationality yearnings and the fundamental right of struggle for humans for a better life.
Indian Workers Association (Great Britain)
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