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‘Binayak Sen Verdict: Life Imprisonment for Democracy?’: report on a convention at Delhi University

Around 500 students from DU, JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia and IIMC attented a Convention on Binayak Sen and State repression organised by the All India Students’ Association (AISA) on 19th January 2011 at the Arts Faculty, Delhi University. Among those who addressed the Convention were Harbans Mukhia, Nandini Sundar, Prashant Bhushan, Jean Dreze, Achin Vanaik, Nirmalangshu Mukherjee, Vir Bharat Talwar, Shamshul Islam, AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee, Prof. Ali Javed, Prof. Apoorvanand, Dr. Niraj Malik, Dr. Nandita Narayan, noted Hindi Poet Viren Dangwal and many teachers from all universities in Delhi.

This convention, titled ‘Binayak Sen Verdict: Life Imprisonment for Democracy?’ was organized in the backdrop of a verdict sentencing noted doctor and human rights activist Dr. Binayak Sen to life imprisonment for ‘sedition’.

Initially the University authorities tried to deny permission, and ABVP hoodlums tried to physically disrupt it. However, the large gathering ensured that the ABVP cadre were forced to beat a retreat and the University authorities had to relent.

The speakers pointed out that the sentence against Dr. Sen, who has spent his entire life amongst the poor, raising issues of rampant poverty and state-sponsored exploitation, and who protested against state repression and brutal genocidal campaigns like Salwa Judum, is a farce in the name of justice. All the speakers also pointed out that the issue at hand was not merely the injustice done to Dr. Binayak Sen. The verdict against Binayak Sen was a symbol of the manner in which various governments are trying to counter the growing opposition to their policies through the use of draconian laws like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA) and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Many student cultural groups also rendered revolutionary songs by Faiz and Habib Jalib.

The convention ended with a march by some 500 students throughout the Arts Faculty and other colleges of North Campus, DU.