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Statement from PUCL Gujarat on Binayak Sen case

We at the PUCL, Gujarat are appalled by the arrest of Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Vice-President of the National PUCL by Chhatisgarh police on 14th May 2007 in Bilaspur under the most undemocratic and barbaric Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2006 and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2004.

We are also concerned over Dr. Binayak Sen’s deteriorating health, as he is reported to have lost 20 kilograms of weight over the past six months of his imprisonment. We appeal to the authorities to take cognizance of this medically significant development by immediately shifting him to a competent hospital where relevant investigations and treatment can be provided. PUCL

Letter to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh send by PUCL, Gujarat.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties
C/o Shishu Milap, 1 Shrihari Apartment, Behind Express Hotel, Vadodara – 390 007, Gujarat Email: sahajbrc@yahoo.com, rt_manav@sancharnet.in

________________________________________________________________________

Date: 20th January 2008

To,

Dr. Raman Singh

The Chief Minister,

Raipur

Chhattisgarh.

Sub: We request you to revisit afresh the arrest of Dr. Binayak Sen General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Vice-President of the National PUCL and to ensure conditions for his release.

Dear Sir,

As members of a human rights organization working for the poor and the marginalised, we are disappointed that the Sessions Court in Raipur in its hearing on the 28th of December ’07 granted neither parole nor bail to Dr. Binayak Sen. This is particularly dismaying as it meant that Dr. Binayak Sen could not be present in Mumbai on 30th December 07 to receive in person a prestigious gold medal, the Paul Keithan Award, from the Indian Academy of Social Sciences at their national convention. This award was given in recognition of Dr Binayak Sen’s lifetime contribution in the fields of public health and human rights.

We at the PUCL, Gujarat are appalled by the arrest of Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary of the Chhattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties and Vice-President of the National PUCL by Chhattisgarh police on 14th May 2007 in Bilaspur under the most undemocratic and barbaric Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2006 and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2004. The charges leveled against Dr. Sen for arrest are fictitious and it is an unjust attempt to silence the voice of a conscientious person against the State’s unlawful actions perpetrated on the poor and especially tribal community of Chhattisgarh through different mechanisms such as Salwa Judum.

We are also concerned over Dr. Binayak Sen’s deteriorating health, as he is reported to have lost 20 kilograms of weight over the past six months of his imprisonment. We appeal to the authorities to take cognizance of this medically significant development by immediately shifting him to a competent hospital where relevant investigations and treatment can be provided.

The arrest of such an eminent person and denial even of bail to him is a threat to all those fighting for civil liberties and basic human rights. On the one hand, we want doctors to go to remote areas and to work among the poorest of people. On the other hand, if doctors like Binayak are arrested, young medical graduates are going to receive mixed and fearsome messages about what their future fate might be. It is never possible to work with people without being confronted with poverty and discrimination, which are the root causes of ill-health. One cannot be punished for raising valid concerns about the dismal situation of a large part of our population.

The Medico Friend Circle and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan had conducted an investigation into the Public health conditions in Dantewada in June this year, in the context of Salwa Judum related displacement. The findings of this team confirmed initial observations of Dr. Binayak Sen’s team in 2005, about the involuntary nature of Salwa Judum camps and the dismal conditions in which the inmates were staying there. The MFC-JSA investigation also revealed that several hundred villages in Dantewada are not receiving any public health services due to blockade and threats by Salwa Judum since the last two and half years. The pressure on the international humanitarian organization MSF to close down its medical work and reports of threats to doctors and health professionals by Salwa Judum are also matters of serious concern. The Dantewada investigation has reiterated the concerns expressed by Dr. Binayak Sen about the negative public health impact of Salwa Judum.

We request you to revisit afresh the arrest of Dr. Binayak Sen and to ensure conditions for his release. We are sure that the due process of legal justice will prove his innocence. But to make him languish in jail until then, especially without any credible evidence, will only undermine people’s faith in the democratic credentials of the law enforcement agency in the country. As socially oriented professionals, we call upon all media persons to give wide coverage regarding Dr. Sen’s exceptional work and to the facts as they have emerged up till now, to strengthen the process of justice.

Dr. J. S. Bandukwala

Amitaben Verma

Chinu Srinivasan

Rohit Prajapati

Trupti Shah

Maya Valecha

Ambrish Mehta

Trupti Parekh

Rajni Dave

Members of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Gujarat.