Saturday, May 19, 2007


UPDATE On Dr. Binayak Sen's Illegal Detention:

Raipur, 17th May, 2007: 1930 hrs



Dr. Ilina Sen met Dr. Binayak Sen in the Raipur Central
Jail in the presence of the PUCL Lawyer, Adv Sadiq Ali today, after
returning from Kolkota, where she had gone to visit her mother.
According to Dr. Ilina Sen, his morale was high, except that he is
totally cut off from the rest of the world – no news, or censured news
is reaching him, and that he wanted some books and magazines to be
sent to him. He was informed about the various protest demonstrations
and solidarity action being organized all over the country.

Since her house was sealed by the Police till the search,
she is presently staying with a friend along with her two daughters.
Adv. Sudha Bhardwaj, PUCL State Executive Member and Lawyer informed
Mr. B B S Rajput, City Superintendent of Police, Raipur about Dr.
Ilina Sen's arrival. Mr. Rajput offered to open the sealed premises
and allow Dr. Ilina Sen to return to her house. But, this was refused
as taking possession of the house without the search may create new
complications. According to the police, they are now trying to obtain
a search warrant from the concerned court.

In the mean time, Dr. Sen's judicial remand comes to an
end tomorrow, and he could be produced in the Court for further legal

Dr. Ilina Sen has also filed a written complaint with the
police about the "illegal search" and "un-authorized raid" conducted
by the Police officials of the Tikarapara Police Station on 15th May,
2007 in her absence. She has specifically complained that such an
action has generated doubts about the motives of the police. It may be
recalled that the police party had conducted unauthorized and illegal
raid in the afternoon of 15th May, while Dr. Binayak Sen was
cooperating with the police. The police party returned in the evening
to record statements of all workers at the Farm, and also took their
signatures on some papers. They were virtually terrified by the police
action, according to Dr. Ilina Sen.

In the mean time, a protest demonstration was staged against
illegal detention of Dr. Binayak Sen at the Chhattisgarh Bhawan, New
Delhi, where about 250 representatives from various human rights
organisations like the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL),
People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Medico Friends Circle,
National Alliance for People's Movements, Saheli Women's Resource
Centre, etc., participated. They have submitted a Memorandum to the
Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, etc.

An Online Petition signed by about 1200 prominent citizens,
medical doctors, etc., has also been sent to the President of India,
The Prime Minister of India, The Chairperson of NHRC, and The Governor
of Chhattisgarh strongly condemning the imprisonment of Dr. Sen, and
demanding his immediate release.

The Chhattisgarh PUCL has also announced One-day's Protest
Demonstration Against Detention under Draconian Laws on 31st May, 2007
at Raipur, Chhattisgarh, and has appealed to the human rights and
people's organisations to participate in it with specific demands for
the repeal of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2007,
immediate release of Dr. Binayak Sen and others detained under this
draconian act, CBI Enquiry into Police Encounters in Chhattisgarh
since 2005, and putting an end to police harassment of social and
human rights activists and organisations working for tribals, dalits,
workers, women, bonded and child labourers, minorities, etc.



Binayak was produced in the court of the Judicial Magistrate by the police on May 18. The public prosecutor argued for a police remand. This would have meant shifting him out of Raipur Central Jail to a police station. Appearing on behalf of Binayak, Adv. Sudha Bharadwaj argued against a police remand and for continuation of the judicial custody. A bail application made earlier had been rejected. The good news is that the Judge, after keeping everybody in suspense for a number of hours (which Binayak spent in the company of his friends and the police under a tree outside the court), rejected the police’s request for a police remand.

Ilina and their two young daughters Pranhita and Aparijita arrived from West Bengal yesterday, but have been unable to access their house since it is sealed. All of them have shown remarkable composure. Ilina has conveyed her feelings of being overwhelmed by the support and solidarity shown by all the friends at Delhi, Vellore and here in Chhattisgarh.

His friends say that Binayak appeared to be in good spirits. He was pleased to know all the news about the protests. He is sharing a 10x12 room with 13 other inmates at the jail, but had no complaints about it, as he felt that he was being treated well. The police will be searching their house tomorrow.

We have submitted the petition with 1184 signatories on May 17 to the President, Prime Minister, Governor of Chhattisgarh and Commissioner of National Human Rights Comission. The petition has been highlighted in both the Hindu and Indian Express. We are submitting a second set of 804 signatures today. Please continue to submit signatures.

Alumni across the world continue to lobby on behalf of Binayak. A meeting will be held in Raipur on May 31 in which all friends from across the country are invited to lend their support to Dr. Binayak Sen.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

PAUL HARRISON AWARD 2004 for Dr. Binayak Sen


Dr. Binayak Sen joined the MBBS course at Christian Medical College, Vellore in 1966. Throughout his years at C.M.C., he was a brilliant student, constantly pushing the bar in his search for truth and relevance. He passed out from the college as one of its top students. He was then selected for the M.D. course in Paediatrics, and once again came out with flying colours.

After leaving Vellore, Dr.Binayak Sen joined the faculty of the Centre for Social Medicine at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where he focused his attention on social analysis of health policy. Subsequently, he joined a rural health programme in Madhya Pradesh, focusing on the problem of tuberculosis. During this period, he was also involved in evaluating several well-known community health projects, in association with the Medico-Friends Circle. It soon became clear to him that organized movement towards attainment of human rights was an integral part of achieving an acceptable level of health in the community.

At this stage, there was a whole world of options before him. Yet he and his wife, Illina, who is a teacher, chose to go to rural Chattisgarh, to work with mine workers' unions, under the leadership of one of India's finest trade union leaders, Shankar Guha Niyogi. The mineworkers' movement had reached a crucial point. They had fought for and got higher wages, but this had to translate into a better quality of life. Health and education were crucial for this. Binayak and Illina Sen threw themselves into this venture. The Shaheed Hospital was born, with this brilliant son of Vellore as the doctor, earning just Rs. 600 a month. He later extended his services to tribal villagers who had been displaced by the creation of a dam in the> upper Mahanadi basin.

After several years, Dr. Sen moved to the Tilda Mission Hospital and other needy areas in the Chattisgarh region. He, however, continues to be a guiding spirit for the mineworkers' movement. Today, he and his wife run Rupantara, a voluntary organization in Raipur that works for health, education and human rights. Dr. Sen is an active crusader for human rights, investigating custodial deaths and other such infringements in the region. This is a thankless and dangerous job but he does it undaunted. He has also set up the Chattisgarh unit of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, a human rights organization, and is currently its General Secretary.

Throughout these efforts, the stress of Dr. Sen's work has been on decentralization and demystification of health technology and the active involvement of the community. Since 2000, he has been associated with the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a countrywide coalition for the right to health care, where he represents the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), on its National Council. He took part in the People's Health Assembly in Dhaka in this capacity. He has also been part of the State Health Advisory Committee that has designed and put in place a statewide programme for the selection, training and deployment of community health workers.

Dr. Binayak Sen has been true to the spirit and vision of his alma mater and has carried his dedication to truth and service to the very frontline of the battle. He has broken the mould, re-defined the possible role of the doctor in a broken and unjust society, holding the cause much more precious than personal safety. CMC is proud to be associated with Binayak and Illina Sen. He is a role model for the students and staff of CMC, someone who stands out for his literal pursuit of the founding values of CMC.

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to society, the Christian Medical College is proud to bestow the Paul Harrison award upon its illustrious son, Dr. Binayak Sen.

Vellore, 25.10.2004