Binayak Sen – India

Linked with People’s Union for Civil Liberties PUCL, and with RUPANTAR.
Dr Binayak Sen is a paediatrician, public health specialist and national Vice-President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) based in Chhattisgarh state, India. Dr Sen is noted for extending health care to the poorest people, monitoring the health and nutrition status of the people of Chhattisgarh, and defending the rights of indigenous tribal people. In May 2007, he was detained in connection with his human rights work, raising global concern about his welfare. In a statement immediately preceding his arrest, Dr. Sen said, “For the past several years, we are seeing all over India – and as part of that in the state of Chhattisgarh as well – a concerted programme to expropriate from the poorest people in the Indian nation, their access to essentials, common property resources and to natural resources including land and water… The campaign called the Salwa Judoom in Chhattisgarh is a part of this process in which hundreds of villages have been denuded of the people living in them and hundreds of people – men and women – have been killed” … (full long text).

See video: protest against PUCL activist’s arrest, 2.40 min., Nov. 17, 2007.

His CV, July 2007.


Binayak Sen – India

He says: … “I was not doing anything secret. Whatever I did was in the cause of human rights and not to further the interests of CPI (Maoists)”. (full text).

Dr Sen says he was treating the ailing 70-year old prisoner Sanyal. But the government thinks otherwise. Sen has been charged with “criminal offense” for visiting the ailing terrorist in the jail. (full text).

Binayak Sen: Victim of State vendetta, summer 2007.

Meanwhile, a few new sites have appeared dedicated to publicizing my brother’s work. Apart from the Save Binayak campaign from a group of doctors in the UK, there is also a blog and a wikipedia entry on him. This must be somewhat embarrassing to Dada, who would much rather talk about the issues and the institutions than his own work. This is one of the reasons why I am only beginning to find out about the extent of the work he and his wife Dr. Ilina Sen (a demographer and social analyst who also founded a NGO called Rupantar in Raipur) have done in the area of public service. (full text).


Read articles published through PUCL: PUCL seen by Pushkar Raj; Peoples Union for Democratic Rights; Binayak Sen arrested, by Rajendra K. Sail, November 2, 2007; Legal delays result in a standstil: Dr. Binayak Sen’s case: At the trial court, Raipur, October 8, 2007; State repression in M.P. is politically motivated, Oct. 5, 2007.

Background information on Dr. Binayak Sen: His name is Binayak Sen. He had a distinguished academic career in Vellore, graduating in Medicine and later acquiring an M.D. in Paediatrics. From 1976 to 1978, he was a faculty member at the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

He left his academic appointment to work in a community based rural health centre in Hoshangabad district of M.P. focusing on problems of tuberculosis. During the late seventies, he became an active member of the Medico Friend Circle, a national organization of health professionals working towards an alternative health system responsive to the needs of the poor. This involvement continues till today. Binayak worked with mine workers in Dalli Rajahara towards addressing their health needs, helping them set up and manage their own Shaheed Hospital. When this hospital no longer required his leadership, Binayak moved to a mission hospital in Tilda where he worked in Paediatrics and Community Health. After the death of Shankar Guha Niyogi with whom he was closely associated, Binayak moved to Raipur. From 1991, he has worked in developing relevant models of primary health care in Chhattisgarh. He was a member of the state advisory committee to initiate the community based health worker programme across Chhattisgarh, now well known as the Mitanin programme. He also gives his services to a weekly clinic in a tribal community in Dhamtari district. He continues to provide health care to the children of the marginalised, especially the migrant labourers. In recognition of his work, the Christian Medical College, Vellore conferred on him the Paul Harrison Award in 2004, which is the highest award given to an alumnus for distinguished service in rural areas. He continues to be an inspiration to successive generations of students and faculty. (full long text).

Dr. Binayak Sen Support Forum.

Amnesty International is concerned over the apparently arbitrary arrest and detention of Dr. Binayak Sen, a human rights defender and the police harassment of two other human rights defenders at Raipur in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. This follows the alleged involvement of police in unlawful killings of 12 adivasis (indigenous communities) in Santoshpur on March 31. The allegations have been substantiated by a police inquiry but the state government refuses to approve the prosecutions of those suspected to be involved in the killings. Dr. Sen is the general secretary of the Chhattisgarh unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), one of India’s foremost human rights organizations, and has been instrumental in working on access to health for adivasis. On 14 May 2007, he was detained at the Tarbahar Police Station, Bilaspur district, when he was returning from Kolkotta to Raipur. Since May 15, he is held at Raipur prison. Police officials later sealed his residence and searched his clinic. His organic farm in a nearby village was also searched. (full text, AI Index: ASA 20/013/2007/Public).

Letter to Prime Minister of India.

New Delhi: No story on saving the poor in Chattisgarh is complete without Dr Binayak Sen. Long before the AIIMS doctors came to work here with the miners, all his work he has been rewarded with the 750 page long charge sheet. He has been accused to be a Naxalite, because he did not refuse treatment to those who are radically sick among the Naxalites. Long after giving up working in the mines, this has been Dr Binayak Sen and his organisation Rupantar’s workplace. Now, this place is desolate. If there are people here today, it is because they have come to meet the doctor’s wife, Dr Ilina Sen. They have all heard the news of the arrest. Everybody is stunned. (full text, Sept. 30, 2007).

The arrest of Dr. Binayak Sen came after a week of false charges by the SP Raipur that Dr. Binayak Sen is a Naxalite. For the last few days, the police has made similar public statements against several other PUCL (Chhattisgarh) activists and democratic rights activists including Ms. Rashmi Dwivedi and Mr. Gautam Bandopadyay. (full text).

He writes: It is deplorable that the government is harassing sincere social workers instead of addressing the issues they raise. We attach to this letter an excerpt from the newsletter of India’s famous Christian Medical College, Vellore, which presented the Paul Harrison Award recognizing the services of Dr.Sen. We demand immediate release of Dr. Sen and withdrawal of false cases against him. We trust you will leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety of Dr. Sen and his family. With deep concern, (full text, May 15, 2007).


Clearly the state government believes otherwise. The myopic and feudal attitudes fuelling the way the government is run there, obviously has decided that if it does not care about improving the manner in which the poor are treated, no else would either, and if they do, then they run the danger of falling afoul of the law as Dr Sen has done. Clearly with people with convictions and concern for the poor like Dr Sen out of the way, the BJP led Naxalite chasing government of Chattisgarh want to prove Jesus right – The poor will always be with us. (full text).


South Asian Citizen Website

Janadesh For A National Land Policy, 30 October, 2007;

Right activists to meet in Chhattisgarh, Nov. 13, 2007;

Association for India’s Development;

“Release Binayak Sen”, by Noam Chomsky, June 16, 2007;

WHO Library, WHO regional office for south-east Asia.

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