The life sentence awarded to Dr Binayak Sen should shake the conscience of the nation. Dr Sen is a person who dedicated his entire life for the welfare of the poor and the downtrodden. After completing his MD in paediatrics from CMC, Vellore, Dr Sen worked at the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, as a faculty member. Later he started working for tuberculosis patients in Madhya Pradesh in collaboration with a community based rural health centre.
In the 70s Dr Sen joined the Medico Friends Circle, a national organisation of health workers, which sought to evolve an alternative health care system for the economically weak sections. Later he worked for the mine workers in Chhattisgarh and set up a hospital with the help of the workers.
In the 80s Dr Sen moved to Raipur where he worked along with government agencies for community based health programmes. Along with his wife, Dr Ilina Sen, he set up an NGO, Rupantar, for health workers.
For some time he was the General Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties. The work of this organisation covered divergent issues such as custodial deaths, fake encounters, hunger deaths, malnutrition, and dysentery.
When Maoism spread across the state of Chhattisgarh and neighbouring states, the Chhattisgarh government formed Salwa Judum, a reactionary people’s movement to fight the Maoists. Dr Sen questioned the excesses of Salwa Judum. This brought him under the scanner of the government. Ever since he was viewed as a Maoist or at least a supporter of Maoism.
And now he has been put behind the bars for many years.
Dr Sen has won a number of awards, both national and international, for the commendable services rendered by him for the poor and the oppressed. He now deserves a far better deal than what the Chhattisgarh government and other selfishly motivated powerful people are giving him.
Dr Sen’s fate is a shameful blot on Justice, on humanity, on civilisation itself.
Photo courtesy Countercurrents