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Dr Binayak Sen, man with a mission

Dr Binayak Sen, man with a mission

Diptosh Majumdar / CNN-IBN

Sunday , September 30, 2007

New Delhi: No story on saving the poor in Chattisgarh is complete without Dr Binayak Sen. Long before the AIIMS doctors came to work here with the miners, all his work he has been rewarded with the 750 page long charge sheet. He has been accused to be a Naxalite, because he did not refuse treatment to those who are radically sick among the Naxalites.

Long after giving up working in the mines, this has been Dr Binayak Sen and his organisation Rupantar’s workplace. Now, this place is desolate. If there are people here today, it is because they have come to meet the doctor’s wife, Dr Ilina Sen. They have all heard the news of the arrest. Everybody is stunned.

True, Dr Binayak Sen is a different kind of personality. He has been looking beyond medicine and health care for quite some time. He can never stay away from injustice. When the Chattisgarh police picked up Narayan Sanyal and kept him in Raipur jail he simply couldn’t resist visiting him.

And the nearly seventy-year-old Sanyal was suffering from a number of ailments and he wanted to help him out.

It is in this jail, Binayak Sen used to come and meet Narayan Sanyal, a Naxalite leader. Now the government who gave him permission 33 times felts that he shouldn’t have done it. He would be a Naxalite, because he is treating a Maoist leader.

Is protest against the way Salwa Judum is being used by the police crime enough to be languishing behind bars? The bookshelves in Dr Sen’s small flat in Raipur were searched by policemen who couldn’t find anything incriminating than some usual Marxist literature. Dr Sen can never be part of any movement calls for the use of violence.

Dr Ilina Sen says, “My husband is a very simple person and he is completely a non violent person. He can’t even harm a cat or a dog. So little not violence in civil life. He is completely non violent and it is impossible you know that his name is being linked to a violent movement.”

It is obvious that charges against Sen have been labeled by a paranoid police force, which is frightened by anyone opposed to their methods of fighting the Naxalite. Dr Sen has been targeted because he had been critical of the role of the police. And the voluminous chargesheet filed against has little by way of evidence.

Sudha Bhardwaj says, “Well I would say that the charges are indeed flimsy and even if one accepts all the facts that were on the record even all that together doesn’t amount to an offence. The only thing that has been made out against Binayak Sen is that he went 33 times to meet an under trial. This under trial happens to be a 70-year-old gentleman called Narayan Sanyal. He has now on 25th of June that after the arrest of Binayak Sen also been accused under the unlawful activities act and under the Chattisgarh Public Safety Act.”

That Dr Binayak Sen had fallen out with the police is easy to understand. Even Chief Minister Raman Singh would rather not speak on the subject

Dr Sen had been an important functionary of the Chattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties and was coolly and rationally pointing out how the police were eliminating Naxalite in fake encounters.

The last fake encounters in March had been exposed by doctor Binayak Sen and others and even earlier before that one of the first reports in 2005 November all the Salva Judam killings was carried out by PUCL Chattisgarh and along with others organisations.

In this village more than 50 km from Raipur, Dr Sen is remembered for treating patients. He is regarded just as a doctor and since doctors give back life, he is a demigod.

And this building is a milestone in Indian medical history. It’s not-so-impressive façade hides the birth and the growth of the finest community health worker programme. The Jana Swastha Sahyog has carried on that tradition. Only Dr Sen is being made to languish in jail for a lifetime of service.

Chattisgarh is just not the battle between Salwa Judum and the police, the Naxals and the police. Another battle is going on hear between the Dr’s and the disease. In the recent years a number of brilliant and courageous doctor have come and settled and have been fighting the poverty and the health care system.

Some like Dr Binayak Sen have been asking embarrassing questions. He is been made to pear heavy price for it. In this grim situation, the big question is that will the doctors be able to stay on or will they be able to gag and stamp out the descent in the system.