The need to enlarge protests around Binayak Sen to all cases of sedition – PUDR Statement

January 4, 2011

Jan 4, 2010

Dear friends and comrades,

The recent countrywide demonstrations against the unfair verdict in the Binayak Sen case have been really heartwarming. The demonstrations have brought many of us together, who feel enraged and upset over the judgment. Clearly, if our numbers continue to grow, we will soon be in a position of strength and will ensure the release of Binayak and many others.

The case against Binayak Sen has become a focal point to oppose the attempts by the state to criminalise civil rights activities. Yet, we strongly feel that in order to make the entire campaign into a success we have to enlarge the present focus from the individual, Binayak Sen, to include the co-accused, Piyush Guha and Narayan Sanyal, and also take into consideration the plight of others who are similarly imprisoned in unfair cases of sedition.

Consider the following : Piyush Guha, the supposed courier in this case, has never been granted bail. He lost his parents in the course of these three years but was not given the right to even attend to the last rites of his parents. Piyush was kept in illegal custody and tortured for five days and he was only produced when the Chhattisgarh PUCL issued a statement demanding his whereabouts. His family lost its breadwinner and his wife, Rupa Guha, has been carrying out a lone fight for three and half years. Our efforts in demanding the release of Binayak must include the release of Piyush Guha.

Narayan Sanyal, the other co-accused has been in jail for five years already. He is old and ailing and is suffering from a chronic and painful ailment, fibromatosis. Despite directives from the court, he has not received any serious medical treatment in prison.The argument that his being a Maoist ideologue is sufficient to keep him in prison for the rest of his life is unfair, cruel and undemocratic particularly since the other cases in which he has been arrested have nearly collapsed. As has been pointed out by many, the decision to charge him with sedition happened only after the police arrested Binayak Sen. Narayan Sanyal’s case (even his supposed role in the present one) is a fit case for us
to ask not only for his release but also to demand a repeal of the ban against CPI(Maoist).

Our campaign must focus on demanding the repeal of undemocratic ‘security’ legislations like UAPA, CSPSA etc or under unfair provisions of the IPC like ‘sedition’ (S 124 A) and ‘waging war’ (S 121 of IPC) . The most recent conviction of Asit Sengupta, editor ofthe well known journal, World to Win is most worrying. Sengupta was arrested by Chhattisgarh police (and illegally detained, of course!) in January 2008 and never granted bail. On the same day when Binayak, Piyush and Sanyal were given life imprisonment, the same day Asit Sengupta was convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment for his work as an editor and publisher by another Raipur court. Kopa Kunjam, activist of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (Dantewada) who was working to re-settle displaced Adivasis in Netra villa, has been implicated in a murder case. Nine activists,
including Kartam Joga of Adivasi Mahasbha, campaigning against landgrab in Lohanmdiguda, (Bastar) have been accused of involvement in the attack on CRPF personnel. There are innumerable incidents of this nature which are taking place in Chattisgarh and elsewhere where joint operations are going on.

Friends, we need to fight together to ensure that :

1. The entire miscarriage of justice begun in 2007 should be rectified and all the victims should be unconditionally released and compensated for their unfair stay in jail.
2. Withdrawal of undemocratic ‘security’legislations like UAPA, CSPSA etc
3. Repeal of archaic and colonial provisions like sedition and waging war from the IPC
4. Improvement of facilities in jails, particularly medical treatment of prisoners

Harish Dhawan and Paramjeet Singh
(Secretaries PUDR)