Update on detention of Dr. Binayak Sen, Vice-President of the National PUCL

May 24, 2007

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Who Is Dr. Binayak Sen?

Dr. Binayak Sen is a very well-known activist who is highly respected both in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere. As a medical doctor, Dr. Sen has been actively involved in providing health care to the poorest people as well as monitoring the health and nutrition status of the people of Chhattisgarh. Dr. Sen helped to set up the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha’s Shaheed Hospital, a pioneering effort to establish a health programme and hospital owned and operated by a workers’ organization for the benefit of common people. Besides being actively involved in the Shaheed Hospital, Dr. Sen is a very well respected member of Jan Swasthya Sahyog which is committed to developing a low-cost, effective community health programme in the tribal and rural areas of Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh. He was also a member of the state advisory committee to create a pilot community-based health worker programme across Chhattisgarh that later became known as the Mitanin [community health volunteer] programme. He also donates his service to a weekly clinic in a tribal community in Dhamtari district.

As General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh PUCL, Dr. Sen has helped to organize numerous fact-finding campaigns about human rights violations in the state including custody deaths, fake encounters, hunger deaths, dysentery epidemics, malnutrition, and other similar violations. In recent times he has worked intensively to bring large-scale oppression and malgovernance within the so-called Salwa Judoom in Dantewara to national and international attention. Dr. Sen has regularly spoken to the local and national media on these issues.

Dr. Sen has been contributing theoretical papers to books and journals on public health. He was the recipient in 2004 of the Paul Harrison award for lifetime work of medical care in the service of humanity, an award given annually by the Christian Medical College, Vellore to one of its alumni.

Update On Dr. Binayak Sen’s Illegal Detention

Dr. Binayak Sen was produced today in the court of the Additional CJM at Raipur along with the co-accused, Mr. Pyush Guha. Dr. Sen was sent on judicial remand to Raipur Central Jail until 5 th June, 2007.

The police had applied for permission from the Court to examine the CPU of his Computer by an expert, which was seized during the search on 19 th June. Dr. Sen’s lawyers had moved an application yesterday that the CPU be examined in the presence of two independent witnesses with knowledge of computers. During the hearing today, the State opposed the application on the grounds that there was no such provision in the CrPC, and that both the parties, the police and the accused, would not be present during the examination of the CPU by an expert to be appointed by the government. However, after hearing both the parties, the Honourable Court passed an order that the CPU would be examined by the government expert in the presence of the District Head of the National Informatics Centre, and a lawyer suggested by the accused with knowledge of computers. Advocate Saurabh Dangi’s name was suggested by the lawyers of Dr. Sen, who practices at Chhattisgarh High Court at Bilaspur.

Dr. Binayak Sen informed the concerned court that the police escorts tried to handcuff him at the jail gate, which he protested. The court has finally ordered that he should not be brought in handcuffs from the Raipur Jail and back until it was really necessary to do so.

During the day’s proceedings, PUCL members, social activists, friends, family, students and other citizens were present to express solidarity with Dr. Binayak Sen.

The Bail application for Dr. Binayak Sen was moved by his lawyers today. The hearing on the Bail application would be held in the Sessions Court at Raipur on 24 th May, 2007. During this hearing, prominent lawyers from Delhi, Calcutta are likely to be present.

ยท Prominent Journalists and Social Activists Meet The Governor of Chhattisgarh Demanding Dr. Binayak Sen’s Unconditional Release

A delegation from Delhi representing various organizations met the governor of Chhattisgarh, Mr. E.S.L. Narsimhan, demanding the unconditional release of Dr. Binayak Sen and erasing anti-democratic laws like the Chhattisgarh Special Security Act, 2005. The delegation consisted of Prabhash Joshi, Senior Journalist, Ajit Battarcharjee, Former Editor of TOI, HT, Indian Express, Harsh Mandar, former IAS officer, Dr. B.D. Sharma, former IAS officer, Kavita Srivastav, National PUCL Secretary, Arun Khote, National Convener of National Commission of Dalit Human Rights. The response of the Governor was very formal, and he asked the delegation to knock the doors of the courts.

The delegation could not meet the Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh, although given an appointment at 1 pm, given the sudden and tragic death of O.P. Rathore, the Director General of Police, Chhattisgarh, who died of a massive heart attack while delivering a lecture on anti-terrorism. However, the memorandum signed by the delegation was submitted to the representative of the CM, who promised to look into the demands.

* Protest Demonstration on 24 th May In District Headquarters in Chhattisgarh

Under the banner of PUCL-Chhattisgarh, a one day protest has been organized on 24 th May at the district headquarters. A signature campaign will be launched on that day demanding the scrapping of the Chhattisgarh Special Security Act, 2005, and the unconditional release of Dr. Binayak Sen. The memorandum with signatures will be submitted to the governor and chief minister of Chhattisgarh on 31st May, 2007, the day an all India protest is being organized in Raipur. Prominent citizens and members of various human rights and people’s organizations from all over the country will participate in the protest on the 31 st May.

* Protest meeting in Delhi on 26 th May, 2007

On the afternoon of 26th May, 2007, a protest meeting has been organized at Gandhi Peace Foundation in New Delhi to review the situation arising out of Dr. Binayak Sen’s illegal detention under the black laws, and chalk out future strategy and agenda for action. A National Committee for the Defence of Dr. Binayak Sen will be constituted at this meeting, bringing together prominent lawyers, doctors, literary figures, journalists, social workers, trade union leaders, students, etc.

Previous PUCL Statement

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Chhattisgarh Unit has strongly condemned the police action in detaining Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary, Chhattisgarh PUCL, and the Vice-President, National PUCL as a repressive act, as he was detained under the provisions of the highly
controversial Black Laws: The Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 (CSPSA), and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 having been
amended in 2004 and made more stringent after the collapse of POTA. By failing to use the provisions of the well-established laws of the land like the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, the Chhattisgarh Police has already demonstrated its inherent bias and political motivation in arresting Dr. Binayak Sen under laws which do not carry out the provisions such a bail, appeal, etc.

It may be recalled that the provisions of the CSPSA provide for arbitrary detention with no remedy of appeal or review provided against such arbitrary
powers and decisions that may be made by the District Magistrate. In fact, it goes even further by providing an ‘ouster of jurisdiction’ clause and providing that action under this Act by any officer authorized by the government for this purpose or by the District Magistrae shall not be questioned before any court.

Issuing a statement today, Adv Rajendra K Sail, President, Chhattisgarh PUCL has categorically stated that the PUCL had already apprehended such a
repressive action against the human rights and social activists working for the civil liberties and people’s rights in Chhattisgarh, because the State Police Officials and Ministers had already threatened to use the CSPSA against the PUCL activists and social workers. Even specific names that were prominently reported in the press as a result of Police Press Briefings like that of Dr. Binayak Sen, Adv Gautam Bandopadhyay of Nadi Ghati Morcha, Ms. Rashmi Dewedi of Baiga Mahapanchayat- Chhattisgarh, etc. Incidentally, Ms. Rashmi Dewedi is presently the Vice-President of the Chhattisgarh PUCL, and Adv Bandopadhyay is the former Executive Committee Member of the Chhattisgarh PUCL..

It may be noted that Dr. Binayak Sen was detained at the Tarbahar Police Station, Bilaspur in the afternoon, when he returned from Kolkotta after a fortnight’s leave. He was made a co-accused in the case of one Mr. Piyush Guha, (who was arrested illegally on 1st of May in the evening, but produced before the Magistrate only on 5th May, 2007) after the PUCL issued statement-expressin g concern about his “abduction” by the police. The allegation that Dr. Binayak Sen had passed on letters to Mr. Piyush Guha written by the CPI (Maoist) leaders lodged at the Raipur Central Jail also needs serious consideration, as Dr. Sen met the inmates with the prior permission of the Superintendent of Police, Raipur, and in the presence and office of the Jailer, Raipur. If that be the case, the PUCL demands that the Jail officials be also made co-accused in the case.

The PUCL further demands that the search for the premises of Dr. Binayak Sen should be strictly carried out in accordance with the provisions of the law. It would be in the larger interest of the law that the same be done in the presence and with participation of independent witnesses to the police search, and the entire search proceedings be video-graphed.

The PUCL has decided to carry out a concerted campaign against this “repressive measure” taken by the Chhattisgarh Police, and take legal recourse to challenge the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005.

Rajendra K Sail


(Mobile: 098268-04519)