Is Binayak Sen a seditionist or Samaritan?
A verdict of the Raipur Sessions’ Court on 24 December 2010 pronouned Sen as a Maoist sympathizer and guilty of sedition.
Not many though went by the words of the judge even questioning the authenticity of evidence provided. The verdict has ignited an argument on who Sen is and what he is not.
The book A Doctor to Defend: The Binayak Sen Story, authored by former journalist and documentary filmmaker Minnie Vaid and recently launched by Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen, attempts to put Sen’s identity and work from the people’s perspective with whom he dealt with as a doctor and philanthropist.
The views of Binayak Sen’s patients and their families and other activists who are still working in the remote Chattisgarh villages are incorporated in the book. Vaid aptly calls this bunch “future Binayak Sens”.
“Therefore I would not like to call the book as Binayak’s autobiography but instead it is all about the person he is, the work is doing and his beliefs,” she said.
The author said anyone who believed Binayak Sen was a Naxal sympathizer should go to the remotest corners of Chattisgarh and see the work he has done.
“The name Binayak Sen was like a magic mantra, the moment I uttered it, people of the villages opened their hearts and homes to me which itself serves as a proof of the man’s work and his importance in the people’s lives,” Vaid said.
Calling the book well-timed, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen who was the chief guest at the book launch, lent equivocal support to Binayak Sen.
“Minnie’s work will act as an interlude in this entire set of very surprising events,” he said..
“Binayak Sen’s conviction is not justified and as an individual and a citizen of the country, I have my rights to question the judiciary about the same,” the economist said.
“I emphasize that his (Dr. Sen’s) work was great, and is not a matter of sedition. Being a doctor, he could have been earning huge amounts of money, but he decided not to choose that path and instead decided to serve the people,” the professor of Economics said.
Sen said he was “amazed” by the judgement as ‘sedition’ means pulling the state down by violence and there is nothing to suggest that the doctor did this.
“The charges against him are of a threatening nature and seem to have been politically motivated. Any intelligent person would find that the judiciary acted very peculiarly. I hope the high court or Supreme Court quashes this,” the Nobel laureate said.