Calling it a “fraudulent and politically-motivated judgment,” the Forum of Artists, Cultural Activists and Intellectuals condemned here on Monday the life imprisonment given to activist Binayak Sen by a court in Chhattisgarh and demanded his “unconditional release.”

Dr. Sen, Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal and city-based businessman Pijush Guha were sentenced to life on December 24 by a Raipur sessions court, which found them guilty of criminal conspiracy to commit sedition under Section 124(a) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Social activist Medha Patkar said that such verdicts were an attempt by the state to suppress the non-violent people's movement in the country.

“I condemn what is a political statement rather than a legal judgment. It clearly expresses contempt for the Constitution, fundamental rights and freedom of expression. A highly-acclaimed physician, Dr. Sen has been victimised as he protested against the Salwa Judum and grabbing of land and mineral resources from the tribal people by corporate giants,” Ms. Patkar said at the press conference held under the banner of the Forum.

She demanded a review of the IPC and repeal of “draconian laws” such as the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

A letter from Dr. Sen's octogenarian mother, Anasuya Sen, was read out at the conference in which she said that her son had always followed Gandhian principles and liked to live among the downtrodden. She added that while she was proud of her son, the judgment had been painful to her and she was hopeful of his acquittal.

Trinamool Congress MP and singer Kabir Suman said the verdict was a “death sentence for democracy itself.”

Film personality Aparna Sen called it a “travesty of justice” as she alleged that while a person like Dr. Sen was convicted, several corrupt politicians were roaming free, even after squandering lakhs of crores of public money.

“Voicing our protest is the only thing we can do now against the judgment or else we have to call ourselves an autocratic nation,” Ms. Sen added.

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