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Is standing with poor a crime in India?

Dr. Binayak Sen and his arrest: A Question

September 12, 2008

Dr. Binayak Sen, criminalized for standing with the poorThe Student Christian Movement of India – Tamilnadu Theological Seminary Unit had its inauguration by involving in Signature Campaign against the inhuman custody of Dr. Binayak Sen and others by the black laws of the state by asking a question ‘Is standing with poor a crime in India?. This year’s session was inaugurated by Rev. Dr. P. Mohan Larbeer, Principal TTS. In his inaugural address Dr. Larbeer said that, the student community is supposed to be vigil in updating and responding to the social issues immediately.

Though SCMI has taken up this issue after a year, still it is relevant because it is not just questioning the inhuman custody of Dr. Sen and others, but to let the State to review and recall the black of such laws. Mr. A. Muthukrishnan, a well known columnist was the chief guest of the day. He narrated the background of Dr. Sen’s arrest and the section of Law which led to his arrest. It is informed that Dr. Sen was a member of the State Advisory Committee that piloted a community-based health worker programme in Chhattisgarh. He is a recipient of Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights of WHO.

Free Dr. Binayak SenHe was arrested just because he was favoring the victims of the Government sponsored ‘ Peace Keeping’ programme namely, ‘Salwa Judum’ campaign. The fake encounters, rapes, burning of villages and displacement of Adivasis in tens of thousands and consequent loss of livelihood by the Salwa Judum have been extensively chronicled by several independent investigations which were helped by Dr. Sen. His arrest is clearly an attempt to intimidate the PUCL and other democratic voices that have been speaking out against human rights violations in the State. Dr Sen has been detained under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2006 and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004 on charges that are completely baseless.

Dr. Sen’s arrest makes a common person to get clarified to the following:

I. We Question:

  • Is Standing with poor a crime in India?
    It is very clear that, Dr. Sen just stood with the poor Adivasi victims. Is it a Crime? If so where does State stand?
  • Is Law for People of People for Law?
    Both the above stated laws are extraordinary laws which have been criticized by all civil rights groups for being extremely indistinct and slanted in what is deemed unlawful, and for giving arbitrary powers to the State to silence all manner of dissent. Can anybody abuse the arbitrary powers?
  • Is Dr. Sen a Terrorist?
    Dr. Sen was in several Committees of the state. Were there any activities of such? Without any investigation the State does include a personality in its decision making and executive bodies. If he was a terrorist, the Chattisgarh government would not have been kept him in such big positions.
  • Can a terrorist win the world’s support?
    All the organizations, intellectuals and individuals who are questioning and criticizing this and similar arrests are surely not pro-terrorist, because they did not raise any voices against the arrest of the terrorist.

II. We Call:

  • The Student Christian Movement of India and the Tamilnadu Theological Seminary urge the Student Communities, Civil Right Organizations, Journalists and Interested Public to involve in this signature campaign or similar initiatives to express their solidarity in questioning the inhuman and arbitral abuse of the States.

III. We Demand:

  • The immediate release of Dr. Binayak Sen and others.
  • The immediate abandonment of the inhuman and black laws which harasses the civil society like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2006 and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2004.
  • The immediate disbanding of the practice of outsourcing the police-force by the agencies like ‘Salwa Judum’.

IV. We Urge:

  • The President, The Prime Minister of India, to make the Chief Minister, The Governor and the Chief Secretary of the Chattisgarh government to let their bureaucratic-ego down and to realize the need of the services like Dr. Sen’s for the society at large.
  • The Parliamentarians to evaluate the out-sourcing policies and execution like ‘Salwa Judum’, because it lets the police service down and get escaped from the service force to the striking and carnage force and paves the blood-path in India.

There were about 300 students; faculty administrative and programme staff participated in this Champaign. Ms. Thabitha, the Student Secretary of SCM welcomed the gathering and compeered the programme. Ms. Ashi, Mr. Rajan Joshua and Mr. Jaiya Thilaka Prathaban also spoke on this issue and the role of SCMI. Rev. Dr. Kanagu Nelson, Chaplain TTS graced the function with prayer.

Mr. R. Christopher Rajkumar
Staff Advisor
&
Ms. Thabitha Joseph
Student Secretary
SCM TTS Unit, STN Region