The High Court Convicts Binayak Sen For Sedition

Newsletter Sep - Dec 2010

Yet another nail in the coffin for democracy and a giant leap for the State to promote its idea of India which is anti-poor, pro rabid-growth rate-at-any-cost and silencing of any criticism that’s directed towards it or its policies. Welcome to the world’s largest democracy which has recently convicted Dr. Binayak Sen for being seditious and thrown him in prison with a life sentence. Not one be shamed, the State is proudly waving the 124 (A) flag in the face of anyone who dares to dissent.

124 (A) is a wonderful section of the Indian Penal Code, introduced by the British colonial government in 1860, which forces everyone to unconditionally love the State by stating “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards. 2[* * *] the Government established by law in 3[India], 4[* * *] shall be punished with 5[imprisonment for life], to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine. Explanation 1:- The expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity”.

So yes, 124A should be challenged in court and repealed for sure, but till that happens what do we do? As one campaign say ‘Let us all be seditious’. Yes, let us all be Binayak Sen, let us all be all those people who have been wrongly convicted, let us all be all those people who have suffered countless atrocities that we have not even heard of, let us all be Afsan Guru (who was wrongly convicted and released years later by using another black law POTA, her life shattered forever) and lastly let us join our hands together for a round of applause for the countless people who challenge the State in big and small ways on a daily basis.

But at the same time can we also ask why this incredible 124 (A) was not used against, for example, Narendra Modi – who as we write this piece is busy hosting the ‘Vibrant Gujarat Summit’, seducing the corporate world and attracting highest ever Foreign Direct Investment to the State of Gujarat? Can we forget what happened in Gujarat in 2002? Is communalism not against the idea of India? Is presiding over the killing of thousands of Muslim women, children and men not anti-State? Looks like NOT, when patriotism and love for the country is simply measured by GDP, FDI and making every part of the country ‘investor friendly’. Modi can surely be forgiven but Binayak Sen must go to jail, right? Well, it’s all economics, stupid!

So once again, welcome to one of the fastest growing economies in the world… oops did we say economies… we meant democracy… oops or did we mean shut-up and let the government ‘develop’ the country! Well we don’t know anymore. The poor, marginalised have to pay the price by parting with their land, resources, rights, dignity and those like Binayak Sen who raise their voices just need to shut up, just like burgeoning upwardly mobile middle class and the greedy upper class of the country. The government is busy buying silence, so do not disturb!

 Thankfully there are enough of us who are compelled to disturb the State, who can see through the agenda and not let our voices get silenced. For us in Saheli it is time to re-remember our motto “Question Authority”. There are many protests being held all over the country but will that make the State step back and not make an example of Sen. Time will tell.

 To read a critique of the ridiculous judgment, to know how to get involved in the Free Binayak Campaign and for other information please check http://www.binayaksen.net

 While we use Brian Adams’ lines for the title, we cannot stop ourselves from asking, ‘but must I’?