Dr Binayak Sen is no more an individual, he is now a symbol of active and just resistance against state might. Through a draconian, arbitrary and whimsical act, as formulated by the Chhattisgarh state government, enough injustice has been done. The act constrains anyone who tries to put through a sane voice against the ruinous policies of the present Chhattisgarh regime. The regime calls upon brothers to kill brothers or enemies to kill each other on the pretext of maintaining law and order and combating terrorism.
Dr Sen became a thorn in the side of the establishment because he resisted the nefarious deeds of the government and its more-than-loyal functionaries. He spoke against the Salwa Judum much before it was severely criticised by the Supreme Court in the strongest words. He spoke up against the arbitrary killings and questioned many doubtful and inconsistent 'encounters', a word used by the police to legalise its illegal licence to kill anyone at their will.
The more I think of our country, the more bewildered I become. There are officials in Palamu in Jharkhand who believe that the person suspected in the murder of the social activist Lalit Mahto is Jean Dreze. Dreze is the man who came to this country to serve the poorer section of society leaving all the comfort of life that he, as a degree holder from Britain's Essex University could easily avail of.
The Palamu superintendent of police thinks that Dreze, a person who has been riding a bicycle for the last so many years and who has been leading a life no less austere and simple than an Indian saint, is the person who went to kill Mahto all the way to a far-off place called Palamu.
The District Magistrate corroborates this by providing a motive for the gruesome crime -- a few rupees as bribe he could get in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme.
Then, we have a police administration who finds a criminal, nay a Naxalite or even a terrorist in Dr. Binayak Sen. They find him, along with film maker Ajay T G as the fittest case to be booked under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (1967) amended in 2004. This for a man who is a graduate from Christian Medical College, Vellore, indisputably one of the best medical colleges in India .
Dr. Sen can be a sympathiser of the Naxals. There are many among the young and idealistic lot who seem to agree with many of the policies of the Naxals, at least theoretically, while disagreeing with their acts of violence.
Dr Sen always had a wish to work for the people, an urge that forced him to leave his cozy and comfortable life. But no one in his/her right senses can believe that Dr Sen is a criminal.
The 10-day fast by an array of illustrious and respectable persons around the globe is only an act of penance for the sinful act committed by the Chattisgarh police. I am contributing my bit by participating, in my own little way. I feel privileged and honoured to have been associated with this great cause in any way.
Dr Nutan Thakur works at the Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences in Lucknow