When shadows become real

Binayak Sen’s become a cause célèbre. But there’re many similar cases we don’t hear about.
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Updated on Jan 27, 2011 09:16 PM IST
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With age comes maturity. India is not exactly a greenhorn as far as democracy goes. Then why does the Indian State throw irrational tantrums every time someone disagrees with its policies? Take the example of doctor-activist Binayak Sen. While the State has the right to investigate the links that might exist between some of its citizens and the Maoists, the way things are moving for Dr Sen and his family looks more like a witchhunt than any serious probe. It has almost made Dr Sen a ‘trophy’ accused — a lesson and a warning for many others who deviate from the ‘Stateline’. So it’s not only

Dr Sen, who is now in jail after a Raipur sessions court on December 24 sentenced him to life on sedition charges over his links with Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal, but also his family members who are facing the music.

Even as the case against Dr Sen is fought in the Chhattisgarh high court, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on January 25 booked Dr Sen’s wife Ilina Sen who works at Wardha in Maharashtra. The reason: Ms Sen did not inform the local police about the arrival of several

foreigners for a convention, the FIR claims, she organised. But the truth is the meet was organised by the Indian Association of Women’s Studies and hosted by the Mahatma Gandhi Antarashtriya Vishwavidyalaya, Wardha, and Ms Sen is only an executive member of the organisation. Though the ATS chief has denied any such harassment motive, it doesn’t sound too convincing.

The Binayak Sen case is in the high court and will run its own course. The government must stop wasting its energy targeting a family whose only fault is that it is related to a person against whom they are supposed to have a ‘watertight case’. Dr Sen’s case is being followed internationally as well

as within India. But there are plenty of cases in Chhattisgarh as well as in other Maoist-affected states of the country where tribal men and women and their families are routinely targeted because they or their relatives are suspected to be Maoist sympathisers. They don’t even have the benefit of international support or the media. There are many ways of tackling the Maoist problem, this shadow boxing is surely not one of them.

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