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Education Advisor gets the boot for meeting Binayak Sen

Indian Express, January 25, 2008

He met jailed PUCL leader on Tuesday

Raipur, January 24 : Two days after Chhattisgarh Government’s Education Advisor S C Behar, a former Chief Secretary of undivided Madhya Pradesh, met Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) leader Dr Binayak Sen in Raipur Central Prison, the Raman Singh Government unceremoniously removed him from the post on Thursday.

Sources said the BJP Government took a strong exception to Behar meeting Dr Sen along with social activist Medha Patkar on Tuesday. “They had also openly criticised the Government for the incarceration of the PUCL leader,” the sources added.

Dr Sen has been kept under detention after his arrest on May 14, 2007 and booked by the Chhattisgarh Police under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. A social and human rights activist, Dr Sen has been booked for his alleged links with Maoist extremists.

While confirming that the Government had decided against the continuance of Behar as its Education Advisor, Education Secretary Nand Kumar said he would not like to comment further on the issue.

The official stand on the issue is that Behar lost his job as he did not offer any advice to the Chhattisgarh Government’s Education Department during his three months tenure. However, official sources said the action was necessitated as it was felt that Behar’s open support for Dr Sen had put the Government in an embarrassing situation.

Besides, ever since Behar’s appointment, there have been some discontent within the ruling BJP that a former bureaucrat considered close to AICC general secretary and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh had been appointed in such an important position.

However, this is not the first time that the Chhattisgarh Government has unceremoniously dropped its advisor. In April last year, the Raman Singh Government had removed super cop K P S Gill from the position of Security Advisor to the Chief Minister on Naxalite issues.