“We have a chimpanzee in the White House,” said public prosecutor T.C. Pandiya, eliciting a rare smile from the presiding judge and lawyers gathered at the closing arguments of the trial of celebrated doctor and activist Binayak Sen, who has been charged with criminal conspiracy and waging war against the Indian state.
To buttress the state's case against him, Mr. Pandiya was reading out emails recovered from Dr. Sen's computer, which was seized by the Chhattisgarh police. “This email has been written in code. It is significant because terrorists oppose the U.S. President,” the prosecutor said.
In May 2007, the police arrested Dr. Sen and Kolkata-based businessman Piyush Guha and accused them of conspiring with Narayan Sanyal, a 74-year-old prisoner, who is alleged to be a senior leader in the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
‘Acted as courier’
As per jail records, Dr. Sen visited Mr. Sanyal 33 times in the Raipur central jail. Dr. Sen has maintained that the visits were in his capacity as a physician and the general secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties. The prosecution contends that Dr. Sen acted as a courier for Mr. Sanyal.
On the second day of the prosecution's arguments, Mr. Pandiya attempted to prove that Dr. Sen and his wife Ilina were part of an international terror network. “Ilina Sen has also written an email to one Fernandes from the ISI,” he said, “We do not know if this is the Pakistan's ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence], but there is some significance to this.”
Mr. Pandiya also took exception to the use of the word “comrade” by Ms. Ilina Sen when writing to one ‘Comrade Kusumlata.' “Comrade is only used to refer to someone who is a Maoist,” he said.
Ms. Ilina told this correspondent that the first email was sent to Walter Fernandes at the Indian Social Institute in Delhi and the second was intended for Kusum Lata Kedia, former director of the Gandhi Institute, Varanasi.
The prosecution also brought attention to ‘article 37', a letter allegedly seized from Dr. Sen's home, that proves that Dr. Sen was in frequent correspondence with the Maoists. It has been brought to the court's attention that while all seizures have been countersigned by Dr. Sen, article 37 only carries the signature of the police raiding party. Mr. Pandiya dismissed such complaints on the grounds that the letter was relatively innocuous and had the police wanted to fabricate evidence, they could have come up with something more damning.