The Binayak Sen story has been about sending out a message, not facts or justice. KUNAL MAJUMDER & ANIL MISHRA pick out the shocking holes in the case
ON 24 DECEMBER 2010, Dr Binayak Sen — a man who has now become a cause célèbre across the country — was sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, for “conspiracy to commit sedition”. Sen had worked for 30 years with the tribal poor in the state both as a doctor and a human rights activist. According to the Chhattisgarh state, however, Sen is a dangerous Maoist leader who is a serious threat to national security.
There was a spontaneous surge of outrage in civil society and the media over this scandalous miscarriage of justice. But there was little that could be done. The State had timed itself well. It was a day before Christmas. The high court and Supreme Court were on vacation; most lawyers were away. It would be at least two weeks before Sen’s family could appeal. Enough time for the dread to sink in; the message to go out.
The case against Binayak Sen is so weak, a few days after the judgement, eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani thundered that he would resign from the BJP if Sen was not released. But from the very beginning, the case has only been about sending out a message; not about facts or justice.
Three years ago, when many in the media were still sceptical about the rights and wrongs of Sen’s case and no one was ready to stand up for him, TEHELKA had done a cover story on him laying bare the fictitious case that had been concocted against the doctor (No Country For Good Men: The Doctor, the State, and a Sinister Case, 23 February 2008). Chhattisgarh Director General of Police (DGP) Vishwa Ranjan had admitted to TEHELKA then, “Left to myself, I would have kept Binayak under surveillance, not arrested him.”
On 27 December 2010, speaking to TEHELKA again after Sen was sentenced, he claims he was misquoted. “What I actually said was I would have kept Binayak under surveillance and nailed him with more concrete evidence.” Ranjan, who spent most of his career with the Intelligence Bureau is now the face of the Chhattisgarh government’s ‘war’ against Naxals.