Binayak Sen’s case: Justice should be evidence-based

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By Surendra Kelwala MD

Livonia, MI: I do not know where to take the plight of my friend Binayak Sen, who I believe has been wrongly accused of sedition and given life imprisonment by the lower court of Chattisgarh, so I turn to India Tribune, with the hope that media attention and the vox populi will set him free.

Binayak was two years my senior in Christian Medical College, Vellore. You could not find a more idealistic human being, with a burning zeal to do something outstanding. And his ambition had not a trace of selfishness, love for material comfort, or petty acclaim. It is out of question for him to have done anything illegal let alone something seditious.

Yet, that is the charge that has been labeled against him.

A pediatrician by profession, who has worked all his life in rural Chattisgarh trying to fight for the rights of the indigents, miners and the tribals, he did show ultra left leanings and a weakness for strident rhetoric declaring chronic malnutrition as a form of genocide. But having extreme political views is not sufficient ground to declare somebody as criminal and lock him up in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. For heaven’s sake the man is a 60-year-old doctor; does he need to be locked up in maximum security?

The only vague evidence they have against him is that the three letters that were found in possession of a man, who is accused of having connection with Maoist were allegedly taken out from a known Maoist in the jail by Binayak while he was attending the latter’s health needs.

Now I know Binayak.  He is someone, who would give the shirt off his back to please others. He could have easily been manipulated by the Maoists to act as their mule without any knowledge on his part. Unless they can prove that he knew the contents of the letter, and knew too that they will harm the country, and he still chose to carry them out, there is really no case against him.

Justice should be evidence-based and not blind punishment against anybody, who can be looked upon as guilty by association. Continuing             to imprison Binayak only gives a black eye to the Indian judiciary and discourages those rare idealists, who want to take up the cudgel for           ones who cannot protect their own interests.

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