Academics & activists protest Binayak Sen assurance

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Delhi may be cold but the atmosphere at Jantar Mantar on Monday was anything but that. Over 200 people gathered there and held a heated protest shouting slogans against Dr Binayak Sen's conviction by the Raipur sessions court.

Students from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University (DU),  Jamia Millia Islamia, joined ranks with human rights activists at the protest, which was organized by AISA (All India Students' Association) across the country. "The mining mafia rules Chhattisgarh in the name of democracy, and when somebody protests, it is called sedition. Does the country belong to the corporates or the mafia?" Sucheta De, joint secretary of AISA, thundered.

Hate speeches were delivered against the judicial system of the country and the Chhattisgarh government by angry protesters. Echoing the sentiments of those present, some of the placards read: "If fighting injustice is sedition, then arrest us all" and "Stop witch hunt of dissent".

The protest over Sen's conviction also transcended boundaries with NRIs and foreign nationals too supporting the doctor's cause. "Binayak Sen is a symbol, and the government sees him as a threat. The life of a person is at stake here," said Ania Loomba, a professor of the University of Pennsylvania.


Students' agitation was immense and an evidence of the growing awareness amongst the youth. "The government has given its own definition of sedition, and anybody who goes against it, or fights for his rights, is accused and called a Naxalite," said Abhishek Sen, a student of JNU. "Few doctors go to villages and work there, and Binayak Sen was one of them. The evidence against him is unclear, and incorrect," said Sourabh Kumar, a student of DU.

"The Congress reaction is shocking. Naxalism is due to the negligence of the government; instead of working on the problem, they are punishing those who want to make a difference," says Sujata Madhok, a 57-year-old activist and one of the many who hope their protest makes a difference and overturns the verdict in the next hearing on Binayak Sen.

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