A day after his two-year stint in the Raipur Central Jail ended, civil rights activist Dr Binayak Sen was found busy greeting friends and supporters at his home in Raipur. A relaxed Sen shared his thoughts, sufferings and future plans with Hindustan Times Correspondent Ejaz Kaiser. Excerpts:
Can you please elaborate on your apprehension about the threat from the state government?
Since I am out on bail now, the state government will obviously not be happy. As far as I could gauge from the people’s attitude, the government may go to any extent to suppress me.
How do you plan to continue your mission against Salwa Judum?
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and like-minded organisations strongly believe that we should now seek to de-legitimise violence while favouring engagement and even political confrontation.
How did the two years of captivity feel?
Being locked up for two years, particularly when the state government did not have any evidence against me, reminded me about the remarks by the International Commission of Jurists that there had been a degeneration of jurisprudence on human rights everywhere as part of the jurisprudence of ‘War on Terror’. And it happened in Chhattisgarh as well.
Were you targeted by the state government?
Human rights activists are often being targeted under newly promulgated laws like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act whenever voices are raised against state violence and violation of civil rights. The PUCL has recently challenged the Act in the high court.
How did you keep yourself occupied in jail?
I used to read books and newspapers. During the two years, I developed good rapport with the inmates. I used to do a little exercise, but not regularly.
Any specific reason for shaving off your beard?
Oh that! It’s because of the use of colours during the Holi festival. I am quite allergic to such colours and never ventured out during the Holi. But inside the jail, I had to take part in the festival and colours got stuck to my beard.
How much weight did you lose in jail?
I lost over 12 kg during the two years. I think I need time for my health to recover before I plan something else. I will soon proceed to Vellore to get treated for my heart ailment.
Will you resume practising as a paediatrician?
Being a doctor, I prefer to, but the decision will be taken in consultation with my friends and family members.