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PUCL, June 2007

Dr Ilina Sen's letter to NHRC

Submission to the NHRC team investigating arrest of human rights Defender, Dr Binayak Sen.
7 June 2007

Since my return from Delhi on the 30th, I have had occasion to examine the court file in this case together with our lawyer, ms Nitya Ramachandran. To my horror, I found that letters from the Jail Supdt. to the district police establishment asking for security guards to escort Dr Sen to the court for extension of remand already refer to him as a hardcore naxalite prisoner. This is particularly shocking as neither has the chargesheet in the case been filed nor, understandably, the trial taken place. If the jail supdt draws this kind of conclusion unilaterally, it is only fair that we seek to discover the authority under which he does so. At the jail premises also, every time we visit Dr Sen, we are made to sign in a special register pertaining to naxalite prisoners. This is uncalled for and preposterous in a country where an accused is held to be innocent until proved guilty, and indicates the malafide intent of the state of Chhattisgarh in first identifying its victims, and then seeking to build up concocted cases against them.

In keeping with the pattern observed during the arrest of Dr Sen, in which a media vilification campaign was mounted prior to actual arrest, I found, after the 30th , that a similar campaign had been let loose against me alleging that my relationships and activities would be investigated I learnt today that a special investigating team led by a CSP has this morning visited my mother's home in Kolkata and enquired about my antecedents and tried to find out WHY we chose to work in Chhattisgarh.

It is useful to point out that while both Dr Binayak Sen and I have been publicly critical of Salwa Judum and have drawn attention to its many repressive features ,our work has always been in the public sphere and completely overboard for the last 20 years and more. I believe that the right to hold dissenting political positions is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution, and that the state of Chhattisgarh is operating under a presumption that 'you are either with us or against us'.

This is quite apart from the fact that any Indian citizen has the right to live and work in any part of India. The kind of monolithic thinking that the present government of Chhattisgarh holds is lethal to the democratic way of life. If this trend is allowed to continue, the Indian nation and national values will be destroyed from within quite without the assistance of the naxalites. The arrest of Dr Sen is a test case for Indian democracy.

I may be out of station after tomorrow, but will be happy to talk to the team on phone if they contact me on 94252-06875.

(Dr Ilina Sen) 7.6.07


People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014