If possession of Das Kapital is grounds for a jail sentence then I would like to come clean. Not only do I have a copy of Das Kapital, I also have copies of various Buddhist texts that teach compassion, psychological texts by Carl Rodgers that teach 'unconditional positive regard', my music collection is loaded with songs of peace and of protest by artists such as John Lennon, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and Tracey Chapman and the stories of those most remarkable of people, Mohandas Gandhi and Che Guevara can be found in my film collection. But please don't stop reading my confession just yet, I have only just begun and it gets worse; my desk has a stack of papers that link me to various shady organizations such as the free tibet campaign and Oxfam, I even support charities for people with ill heath such as the national society for epilepsy, and hey if you were to read the kind of things I write about on the internet, well you would want to banish me from society immediately.
No doubt nearly everyone who reads this foreword can relate to pretty much this same level of immoral lawlessness and in many cases I would expect are much worse than I.
Dr Binayak Sen is a respected paediatrician and is well known for his human rights work; and is/was vice president of the peoples union for civil liberties and an advocate of non-violent protest. it appears that this is his only crime. This video although clearly carrying a bias was designed to have a 'friendly face' and seems to be very well researched and factual. It deals with the trial and the evidence or lack thereof that was used to convict Dr Sen. In fact the prosecution could not find anything to support any of its allegations and there is an implication that fake evidence may have been planted. The only tangible evidence for the charge of sedition i.e. incitement of rebellion against the government, is based on possession of literature such as Das Kapital. There are allegations of communications with Maoists; many of whom are active in the same geographical areas but this wouldn't be unreasonable for other activists or aid workers of various flavours. Dr Sen’s real “offence”, and that of many others under arrest in the Chhattisgarh region, appears to have been to try to draw attention to brutal government-backed vigilantes, the Salwa Judum, who raided rebel-dominated villages in the mid-2000s, forcing tens of thousands to abandon their homes.
When we dig deeper we realise that this is in fact not just a case that is of concern to ecosocialists on grounds of human rights and incorrect incarceration but a case that incorporates indigenous struggles and at its beating core; the relentless growth paradigm that epitomises capitalist logic. Despite working for the government as a health advisor, Dr Sen opposed the governments mistreatment of India's indigenous peoples, in this regard Dr Binayak Sen's work was essentially, allbeit indirectly against 'growth', against corporate greed. But this link is not of Dr Sen's making, this bond between capitalism and disparity of various shades is preset. If we try to rebalance the scales there is less room for profit and any of us that try and promote equality could be in the 'firing line'.
Many of the areas that Dr Sens work centered on are rich in resources; timber and minerals, especially Bauxite and Iron. Disputes between the neglected indigenous peoples of these areas, maoists and the central goverment of india has produced much blood shed since the uprising of the late 1960s. The Maoists or Naxolites as they are otherwise known have been guilty of many atrocities that are beyond defense with more than 6000 deaths since the rebellion began. However the frustrations of the indigineous peoples who are being recruited and armed by the maoists are clearly valid. Indeed there are reports of gross atrocities on both sides. The indigenous struggle is the story that we see time and time again. Corporations and governments working together to displace the indigenous from their land with undelivered promises of remuneration.
A UK based mining company Vedanta is the significant corporate body in the region. This company makes vast sums of money for raping the lands of its precious jewels and as with any body that wields money it also wields power. Indeed when taken to court for tax evasion, their case was handled by a government official that just so happened to be a former employee. Why when they have so much money do they avoid paying tax? It's an addiction surely. Presumably one they would'nt bother attempting unless they knew they owned a significant number of government officials.
To bring this blog back into focus and to get to the point in time when Dr Sen was incarcerated we have to tell the story of an indigenous struggle for land rights and for civil liberties, a story of corporate greed, of government corruption, and of a violent rebellion with much blood shed. We see a man that it would seem got caught in the middle and was only standing there because he was trying to improve the situation. Indeed a quote from Dr Sen that I imagine we will hear more of over the coming weeks articulates this nicely: "Nobody is giving up violence. Neither the state nor the Maoists are giving up violence. I am interested in furthering my cause, which is the cause of peace with justice"
Perhaps fresh genuine evidence will be presented and we will realise that Dr Banayak Sen is indeed guilty of trying to bring down the government. All moral judgments and biases aside, there is a judicial process under the magnifying glass here. The charge of sedition is based on possession of literature such as Das Kapital and meetings that took place with a Maoist leader in the presence of officials. As a health adviser for the government and as vice president of the people’s union for civil liberties, one would think that the dialogue or bridge between the two sides formed by Dr Sen would be commended. I fail to see how any neutral party could view this as anything other than a complete travesty of justice. The Indian government is focused on the Maoist rebellion and Dr Sen was a noteworthy trophy; a warning. The name of the article by C. Sathyamala about Dr Sen, published in the Indian journal of medical ethics in 2007 "Redefining healthcare in an unjust society " articulates what Dr Sen stood for. He cared for those he was trained to care about, indirectly his influence could have effected immediate short term profit margins; surely this is why he was incarcerated.
Even though there is no evidence, he has been sentenced; not for one year, not for two years or even three years but for life!
Please join the cause by following the link below the video. The cause is focusing on changing a draconian colonial law, (a law used previously against Mohandas Gandhi). An outstanding feature of this case is that Dr Sen is the first person ever to be given life imprisonment under Section 124-A IPC.
This video also provides a fairly thorough dissection of the case.