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17 December, 2007

BINAYAK SEN: Redefining health care in an unjust society

C Sathyamala writes in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics
about Binayak Sen,
who has been in jail in Chattisgarh since May 14.

Binayak Sen was arrested by the Chattisgarh police under sections of the Chhatisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005, and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (2004) for alleged links with banned Maoist groups. His arrest was the upshot of his attempts to raise issues of human rights violation in government-sponsored violence, within the State and outside, in his capacity as the General Secretary, Chattisgarh People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

You are probably wondering what is the interest of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics is a person in custody on such serious charges. Well, the answer is simple, Binayak Sen is a practising doctor. He sees his activism as intrinsic to his work as a health professional, says Sathyamala in the IJME article.

Dr. Sen, who graduated in medicine from the Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, is a renowned paediatrician. He is actively associated with the Jan Swasthya Sahyog (People's Health Support Group).

When word of Dr Sen spread, noted social activist Medha Patkar and others urged the Chief Minister of Chattisgarh to release him immediately. "We have reason to believe that Dr. Binayak Sen, as a member of PUCL, is being targeted for continually raising civil rights issues in Chhattisgarh, including the recent killing of 12 Adivasis in Bijapur district on March 31,” they said in a letter to him. “We strongly condemn this politically motivated arrest and are deeply concerned about the health and safety of Dr. Sen while in custody."

For several years Dr. Sen has been involved in training people in villages to look after the health of their own communities, running free clinics in areas where the state's medical facilities are not available. For his work he was awarded the Paul Harrison Award in 2004 by the Christian Medical College in Vellore.

The government ignored the appeal for Dr. Sen's release. The courts having rejected his applications for bai, he continues to languish in jail.


vilakudy said...

Good article. This issue Outllook has carried a good article on the same issue. Please have a look at it.

B.R.P.Bhaskar said...

Thanks, Vilakudy. In the absence of proper awareness in our country, it is easy for the authorities to get away with gross human rights violations like this.

Sunita said...

Please sign the latest petition to free Dr. Binayak Sen.

B.R.P.Bhaskar said...

Thanks, Sunita, for drawing attention to the online petition. A link to the online petition site is already available in the Binayak Sen update in this blog, posted on December 28.