New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday ordered that a human rights activist facing trial in Chhattisgarh for allegedly aiding the region’s Communist rebels be released on bail, his daughter said.
Falsely accused? Binayak Sen after being released from the jail following the Supreme Court’s order in Raipur on Monday. PTI
Binayak Sen, a 59-year-old physician and outspoken government critic who has long worked among India’s most impoverished people, has spent the last 22 months in a prison in Chhattisgarh.
“It’s a huge relief to the family,” Aprajita Sen, his daughter, told reporters after attending the hearing on a bail petition filed by his attorney. He was released from the prison later in the day.
The charges against Sen stem from visits he made to a prison in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh, where he treated rebels and other prisoners. Authorities say he used those visits to pass notes between jailed Communist rebel leaders and their compatriots in the field.
Sen has insisted he only provided medical treatment during his visits. Passing notes, he maintains, would have been impossible because his visits were closely supervised by prison guards.
He has worked in tribal villages and repeatedly tried to rally people to fight for their rights, often invoking the ire of the authorities.
Rights groups have been demanding Sen’s release for more than a year.
A group of 22 Nobel laureates last year sent a letter to India’s President and Prime Minister expressing concerns about the case against Sen, saying he appeared to have been jailed for solely exercising his fundamental rights.
If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.