On 15th January 2011, artists, musicians, poets, film directors and writers congregated at Jantar Mantar for an evening of cultural protest against the persecution of Dr Binayak Sen.
The cultural evening was preceded by a press conference addressed by Aparna Sen, Sharmila Tagore, Ashok Vajpeyi and M.K. Raina [see statement below].
Among those who performed were musicians Susmit Bose, Imphal Talkies, Sangwari and other students’ bands; Ashok Vajpeyi, Kumarnarain, Gagan Gill, Sanjay Kundan, Teji Grover, Khursheed Alam, Mukul Priyadarshini, Gauhar Raza and Sudhir Suman read out their poetry.
The Prime Minister
Government of India
Dear Shri Manmohan Singh
We, the undersigned, wish to express our deep concern at the victimisation and unjust imprisonment of well-known humanitarian and human rights defender Dr Binayak Sen, in Chhattisgarh.
Both the charge of ‘sedition and conspiracy’ and the verdict, on 24 December 2010 given by a Sessions Court in Raipur, sentencing Dr Sen to life imprisonment for are unfair, too extreme and undermines the credibility of our police and judiciary. While we understand that Dr Sen has the right to appeal to a superior court we are afraid the long drawn out judicial process itself has become a punishment on its own for this good doctor.
To arrest a citizen of India on false charges and deliberately subject him to years of custody and legal wrangles is to make a mockery of the very idea of justice and democracy in the country.
Dr Binayak Sen, it appears, is simply being harassed in a vindictive manner by the Chhattisgarh government to ‘teach a lesson’ to all human rights activists everywhere. We appeal to you to intervene in the case, press for a judicial review of the verdict and urgently undo the injustice being done to Dr Binayak Sen, who has spent over three decades serving the poor in remote parts of Chhattisgarh.
We also urge your government to completely scrap the law on ‘sedition’, a hangover from the British colonial period, as it is has no place in any independent and democratic country.
Rukmini Bhaya Nair
Murtaza Danish Husain