Trial begins against rights activist Binayak Sen

May 1st, 2008 - 4:21 pm ICT by admin  

Raipur, May 1 (IANS) A court here has begun a four-day trial of physician and rights activist Binayak Sen, who has been charged by police on several counts, including conspiracy and treason. Sen was arrested last year for alleged links with Maoists. Additional District and Sessions Judge (fast track court) B.S. Saluja began hearing the case from Wednesday. Police, who presented a detailed chargesheet against Sen in March at a trial court here, presented a witness Wednesday and will be presenting five more witnesses till Saturday.

Police arrested Sen in Chhattisgarh’s Bilaspur city on May 14 last year for his alleged links with Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal, who is largely credited with making cadres of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) insurgent outfit experts at landmine explosions.

Sen, a top ranking office-bearer of the human rights organisation People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), is lodged in Raipur Central Jail here.

The trial against Sen assumes significance as it is being held in the backdrop of the US-based Global Health Council decision last month to award him with the prestigious Jonathan Mann award for Global Health and Human Rights.

The PUCL and several human right activists accuse police of targeting right activists for highlighting alleged human rights violations by police and excesses on civilians through the controversial state backed civil militia movement Salwa Judum.

“We presented a witness, Anil Kumar, Wednesday and five more witnesses would depose by Saturday to boost our case of treason. We are pushing for strong punishment for Sen, who hatched a conspiracy against the nation and is hand in glove with top Maoist militants,” a top police source told IANS Thursday, preferring anonymity as the trial is on.

However, rights activists claim the charges against Sen are “all trumped up”. They are seeking “a fair trial” under the Criminal Procedure Code and not the stringent Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, under which Sen was arrested.

Senior advocates Anjana Prakash and Mahendra Dubey are representing Sen, while advocate T.C. Pandya is pleading for the government. Several PUCL activists and human rights workers crowded the court on the first day of hearing Wednesday.

The Salwa Judum movement was launched in June 2005 to counter Leftists insurgents who operate a de facto administration in the forested interiors of the state’s mineral rich southern Bastar region.

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