Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a coalition of organisations promoting health rights, has expressed “outrage” at the life imprisonment awarded by a Raipur court to civil rights activist Binayak Sen for sedition and treason.

In a statement issued here on Friday, the Abhiyan said Dr. Sen enjoyed an illustrious record of 25 years of selfless service in health and human rights. He was an active member and former convenor of the Medico Friend Circle, a national organisation of health professionals, which worked for an alternative health system to meet the needs of the poor.

The judgment, the Abhiyan said, was an unacceptable attempt to intimidate and vilify those who advocated the rights of the poor and highlighted the indiscriminate use of state machinery to stifle democratic dissent. The Abhiyan believed that great injustice was done, not only to Dr. Sen but also to the democratic fabric of this country.

Dr. Sen, who is the general secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, Chhattisgarh, and national vice-president of the organisation, is closely associated with the Abhiyan, the Indian chapter of the People's Health Movement.

The Abhiyan pointed out that the Christian Medical College in Vellore conferred on him the Paul Harrison Award in 2004, the highest award given to an alumnus for distinguished service in rural areas. He still inspired successive generations of students and faculty. Many of his articles, based on his work, were appreciated internationally. “His indictment under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2006, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, is utterly condemnable.”

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