Today the people of Chandigarh joined the nationwide protests against the unjustified sentence of life imprisonment handed out to renowned civil right activist Dr. Binayak Sen. A number of activists, teachers, lawyers, journalists, students, artists, writers and representatives of various organisations, namely, People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Democratic Forum, Panchkula, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Internationalist Democratic Students Front (IDSF), Visthapan Virodhi Janvikas Andolan, Sampooran Kranti Manch, All India Lawyers Union, Chandigarh, Education Watch, Critique, and Voices of Civil Society staged a demonstration in Sector 17 to demand the immediate release of Dr. Binayak Sen. Speaker after speaker hailed Dr Sen as a symbol of civil and human rights. Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Manjit Singh, former President, Panjab University Teachers Association, expressed concern at the level of intolerance that the government, both in the State and Centre, has shown towards civil dissent. “The very future of civil protests and people’s movements is at stake”, observed Prof. Singh. Rajeev Godara of Sampooran Kranti Manch questioned the very legality of the entire case, and he maintained that Dr. Binayak Sen has been implicated with Naxalite movement on the basis of most frivolous and planted evidence. J.S.Toor, a well-known advocate and Vice President, All India Lawyers Union, pointed out the colonial mindset of present judicial system, and he questioned the very rationale of invoking the clause of sedition for activities that seek to empower the poor and the neglected. Mr. S.P.Singh of the Democratic Forum, Panchkula, underlined the increasing role of people and civil society in questioning the patently wrong judgements of the courts. Various other speakers highlighted the seminal role that Dr. Binayak Sen has played for the last 25years in ameliorating the health conditions of tribals in the state of Chhatisgarh. The speakers expressed their outrage against the callousness of the state and the judiciary. They reiterated their unflinching support to Dr. Binayak Sen and his social pursuits. The gathering pledged to galvanize more support for Dr. Binayak Sen.
Addressing the gathering Sh Chander Shekhar of New Trade Union Initiative condemned the conviction of life imprisonment to Sh Binayak and demanded his immediate release. He ridiculed the ways of governance of the Indian state whereby the corrupt are roaming scot free and the social activists working for the poor are being put behind bars. Sh Roshan Lal Batta, President PUCL, Chandigarh warned of the two draconian Bills, namely, The Punjab Special Security Group, 2010 and The Punjab (prevention of damage to private and public property) bill 2010, on the anvil of Punjab Government that would result into the encroachment of fundamental rights of the people of Punjab. He demanded that both these bills be immediately withdrawn. Sh P.L. Garg, State Coordinator of Bharati Gyan-Vigyan Samiti said the evidence produced for the conviction are too weak to pronounce such a harsh punishment of life term imprisonment. It is blot in the face of largest democracy of the world said Dr. Garg. He emphasised that instead of imprisoning the social workers the government should focus on how to free the country from the cancer of corruption and how to provide basic amenities to the ‘aam aadami’ (man from the street).
Press Release issued by
Sh Rajeev Godara, General Secretary, Sampooran Kranti Manch, Haryana (9417150798)
Prof. Akshaya Kumar, Department of English and Cultural Studies (98159 52526)
Manjit Singh, Department of Sociology, PUC