Activists and the public gathered outside Mumbai’s busy Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Friday to protest a Chhattisgarh court’s verdict sentencing rights campaigner Binayak Sen to life imprisonment for sedition and links with Maoists.
‘It’s a tragic day for our country,’ said documentary-filmmaker Anand Patwardhan who was part of the demonstration.
They protestors raised slogans like ‘Down with Chhattisgarh government’ and carried placards that read ‘Thieves are set free. The honest go to jail. Helper of the poor Dr. Binayak Sen gets life sentence. Is this justice?’
Terming the Chhattisgarh court’s verdict ‘revenge of the police for exposing their injustice’, Anand said: ‘This is how the nation has awarded a selfless doctor. If standing up non-violently for the most deprived people of the country leads the government to label him a Naxalite and put him in jail, if that is the nature of the state, I think more people will start waging wars.’
Criticising the evidence presented in court against Binayak Sen, a leaflet distributed by the organisers of the demonstration read: ‘Such evidence in any court would be laughable. But in a state like Chhattisgarh, the police are the people who hold the power to decide who remains inside the jail and who remain outside. Anyone who opposes the Government’s pro-rich policies is considered an enemy and put away.’
‘It is a complete travesty of justice. It is the government’s attempt to scare people from speaking out against atrocities,’ Patwardhan said.
Not even an hour into the demonstrations, police came and threatened to arrest the activists after which the protestors dispersed.