Sanhati statement on Binayak Sen’s release on bail

April 21, 2011

Sanhati welcomes the bail granted to Dr. Binayak Sen by the Supreme Court and extends our solidarity of struggle to Dr. Binayak Sen, Dr. Ilina Sen, their family and supporters. We also welcome the February 4th ruling and its implications on matters of sedition, especially the observation on possession of literature and mere membership of banned organisations. We hope that these have significant bearing on the related cases of Narayan Sanyal, Piyush Guha and Asit Sengupta in Chhattisgarh, as well as those across the country that have resulted in the continuing incarceration of thousands of tribals, peasants, workers, human rights activists and mediapersons. We furthermore note that in many cases – political and otherwise – prisoners have been languishing in jails without a fair trial, and at times even without a trial, for months and years. These miscarriages of justice must be immediately remedied, and the victims in these false cases ought to be unconditionally released and acquitted.

We expect this ruling by the Supreme Court would also have significant bearings in cases where the administration has practically refused to comply with the Apex Court Judgements, such as in the case of the state-supported vigilante group in Chhattisgarh, Salwa Judum. We also demand that the government should immediately repeal all outdated laws related to sedition, in the interests of upholding basic democratic rights. At the same time, we believe that while the above measures are necessary, they are far from sufficient for strengthening democratic institutions and practices in the country. Especially worrisome is the continuation of draconian laws like UAPA, CSPSA, Karnataka Organised Crime Control Act, AFSPA, among others. These draconian laws must not be given space in a democratic polity; they must be scrapped forthwith. We urge the judiciary to act on these cases and the public to force the legislatures to repeal draconian laws.

In this spirit, we urge all to join in demanding for an immediate end to all actions by the state to throttle voices of dissent, either by continuous harassments, vilifications, physical attacks, by arrests on fabricated charges or even using false encounters.