About 360 doctors, staff and students of Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore have signed a memorandum demanding a review of the legal process that led to the arrest of Binayak Sen, noted physician, human rights activist and an alumnus of their college.
The memorandum also called for granting bail to Dr. Sen at the earliest and conduct of a fair and speedy trial in the higher court. The signatories appealed to the judiciary, the executive and the legislature of Chhattisgarh and the Centre to intervene effectively.
Many an award
Dr. Sen was conferred the Paul Harrison award, R.R. Khaitan Gold Medal by the Indian Academy of Social Sciences in 2007 and the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights in 2008 that demonstrated his stature in the field of human rights and health.
“Therefore, we are shocked and troubled by the conviction of Dr. Sen for sedition and the extreme punishment of life imprisonment meted out to him. It is a tragedy of our times that such charges could be brought and upheld against a man who has in word and deed advocated peace, justice and harmony and the prevention of violence,” they said in a statement.
In a hall meeting organised by the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Dr. Sen's teachers at the CMC — Dr. P. Zachariah and Dr. Sara Bhattacharjee — took part and campaigned for the repeal of the laws under which Dr. Sen had been convicted.
Needed: fair and speedy trial
Dr. Zachariah said that Dr. Sen should be released on bail and the case should be taken to the next level of the judiciary as soon as possible. He also asked the members to put pressure on the government institutions and higher judiciary to carry out a speedy and fair trial.
Dr. Bhattacharjee recalled that Dr. Sen had established a hospital for unorganised mine workers in a small garage in Chhattisgarh and this was later successfully converted into a 100-bed hospital.
However, he moved out of the place as the mine workers resorted to violence to get their needs fulfilled.
Nation-wide stir planned
PUCL national Secretary V. Suresh said a nation-wide agitation would be organised and street corner meetings held in Chennai to garner people's support.