The Case Against and For Maoists, Naxalites and Their Sympathizers, Collaborators and Ideologues

Dr. Binayak Sen

The case has attracted widespread attention both in the national and international media. Civil rights activists had kept up a constant barrage of criticism in the media while the case wound its way across the lower courts on to the High Court and the Supreme Court which eventually granted bail to Binayak Sen after first rejecting it. Since Sen is a paediatrician by training, doctors came out with a book even defending him and blasting the administration and the judicial system.  Much of the support has been along partisan lines and rather emotive even, without looking into  the details of the case fought over three years and the various appeals filed before the High Court and the Supreme Court. In addition to Binayak Sen, his wife was found to have been running a NGO which was unregistered and which employed several prominent Naxalites. Certain highlights of the case, shorn of the incessant lobbying  through a host  of media channels by several human rights groups, ostensibly orchestrated by Sen and his wife, who happen to be active members of some of these bodies and the several  attempts to browbeat the authorities by having certain international bodies and groups pronounce judgment on the demerits of the case, blast  alleged intolerance by the concerned authorities and, rather blatantly, confer certain awards on Sen while he was incarcerated  and undergoing trial, are contained in the links at the very beginning of this piece.  A timeline of the case can be seen here [ Link ].

In my books, anybody whom Arundhati Roy backs or stands up for is highly suspect. That woman is poisonous, clearly anti-national and possibly funded by foreign agents not well-disposed towards India. I don't quite know the gory details of the case against or for Binayak Sen and his associates, Narayan Sanyal and Piyush Guha who have also been given lifers. However if Sen and some of his backers and friends know what is good for him, they should implore the likes of Arundhati Roy to disassociate themselves from his case. When one is accused of and convicted for a particular crime, whether rightly or wrongly, it doesn't help matters in the least to receive vocal support from someone who is pretty much suspected of having committed a similar crime. Secondly-and this might shock, disturb and enrage some people-I have seen and interacted with my fair share of jholawallas, pinkos & Indian faux intellectuals & liberals and, in my considered view, virtually the whole lot of them are people who are vacuous, superficial, impractical and misguided mostly and would hardly ever be of any help in overcoming the mountains of problems and issues a country like India is beset with.

I am also rather scornful of pinkos & intellectuals who paint tribals and large sections of villagers as innocent folks, pure as the driven snow, who are being discriminated against by the all-powerful state and pushed to the wall, forcing them to become Naxalites
200 pxImage via Wikipedia
Arundhati Roy
 or Maoists. That is one heck of a fairy tale, though of course one doesn't deny that there are many pockets of injustice and discrimination which are evident against various sections of the community and ethnic groups in various parts of the country.
Collateral damages and miscarriages of justice can and do happen in such situations and is par for the course and the larger objective of containing terrorism and insidious insurgencies. The military tribunals, homeland security guys and even the FBI in the U.S. do not quite play by the Marquess of Queensberry rules while enforcing the various anti-terrorism statutes or the Patriot Act. However, while a certain amount of collateral damage and miscarriage of justice may happen as a fallout of their hard-headed enforcement techniques, it is all for the greater good and in such cases the end more than justifies the means.

As I have mentioned earlier, my observations are without getting to know the specifics in this instance, other than seeing the charge that he has been colluding with & helping the Maoists. It is possible that there is truth to that charge. It is also possible that there has been a miscarriage of justice in this instance. A court has ruled against him. He has recourse to appealing to a higher court.

My comments are more directed at the overall situation concerning Maoists & Naxalites and how the whole issue is really that of an ongoing, low-grade war against terrorism. My point is that if one gets involved in such a situation, one would mostly suffer a backlash whether one was actively colluding or maybe merely helping some individuals.

It is a similar situation to how the Naxalites were brought to heel during my schooldays in W. Bengal & Kolkata. Later, in many ways, that was repeated for the Punjab insurgents in the 1980s, where the Armed forces got involved in a major way like they did for the North-East insurgency. After 9/11, because of their global might & reach, the Americans did this all over the Middle-East, large parts of Europe, Pakistan & Afghanistan. The Europeans did this in large parts during the 70s & 80s for putting down everything from the Red Army to the Baader-Meinhof gangs. The Israelis have been doing this for years and have taken things to their extreme in this regard. The Pak army and the Afghan Talibans do the same thing except, in their cases, there is not even a hint of the due process of law. The Russians have done this consistently, specially in places like Chechnya. In China such trials and processes are fast-forwarded, simplistic & severe and if, at the end of a couple of months at best, the state found reasonably good evidence, even if largely circumstantial, of his collusion with the Maoists & Naxalites, he would have been at least incarcerated for life with no recourse to appeal, or possibly executed even.

Guantanamo Bay Base (Cuba)

I recently happened to read John Le Carre's 'A Most Wanted Man'. Le Carre has
consistently written very realistic stories about the world of espionage, mayhem and terror and the way things
John le Carré at the Image via Wikipediaactually happen in that world. In this book he weaves a powerful and realistic tale of how the intelligence agencies of several countries like the U.K., Germany, U.S. and some others, tackle a Russian renegade's son who has, through a series of events, became a Chechen terrorist of sorts. Involved in this whole business are bankers, lawyers and several others and while the intelligence agencies gather a whole lot of information about how the whole chain functions, there's little that can be taken to a court of law and proved. Hence, the respective agencies devise their own ways of tackling people who, at times, indulge in their own words in '95% of good work and 5% of terrorist aiding and abetting'. Its another powerful book from Le Carre and I recommend it as a good read, both for the storyline and to get an understanding of how the entire scenario for tackling militancy, insurgency and terrorism has changed the world over, post 9/11.
Have you read about how the military tribunals in the U.S. function against suspected terrorists? Have you wondered why, despite his lofty rhetoric, Obama has been unable to dismantle Gitmo (and now with the Republicans in charge of Congress will never be able to, during his tenure)? Have you wondered why despite civil and human rights activists in the U.S. and the world over railing about the methods employed and about the curtailment of rights under the Patriot Act, nothing has materially changed since these came into being sometime after 9/11. If you check out the current developments in this regard, nothing much is likely to change, at least in the foreseeable future. Here's one of the many points of view about these military tribunals that you may want to read (link below).

Here are a set of queries I would like you to ponder over: 
1. Over 300 people (and that is possibly quite an underestimate since I just added some numbers in my head based on various incidents & encounters that I could readily recall ) have died in this business of tackling Maoist & Naxalite insurgency, many of them being from the police and the para-military forces, over the last one year. The total loss of lives ever since the movement reared its head has been estimated to be over 2000. At least several hundred others have been either maimed, injured or rendered homeless as a result of their activities in various pockets. Who has ever stood up for them or their families, to be more accurate? What leads human rights activists, pinkos and intellectuals to assume possibly that since most of them weren't exactly well-educated or well connected people and were not members of various human rights or civil activist groups, they are eminently dispensable & forgettable? Isn't that elitism, discrimination and 'casteism' under a misleading garb of the worst kind?

Narayan Sanyal at HomeImage via Wikipedia
Narayan Sanyal, sentenced for life
2. Along with Sen, two others viz., Narayan Sanyal & Piyush Guha have also been given life sentences. If there has been a miscarriage of justice in this case it has presumably happened in their case also (and in an established system, howseover imperfect it may be, that is for courts of appeal and higher courts to decide on and is not left to myriad elitists, commentators and activists like Arundhati Roy to pronounce on by writing columns, blogs etc.,). How many write-ups and articles have you seen so far, taking up the cause of Narayan Sanyal & Piyush Guha? Are they again eminently forgettable and dispensable because they don't quite happen to be either engineers, doctors, scientists, lawyers or academics and are not long-term members of organizations like PUCL or Amnesty International? Isn't that elitism and sham activism of the worst kind?

3. Sen hasn't been tried by a military tribunal where,often, the accused doesn't quite know what the exact charges against him are, hasn't been knocked off in an 'encounter', hasn't been made to disappear and has every right to appeal the verdict in a higher court, aided no
doubt by his human rights activists and 'civil rights' cronies. Given the realities that I have mentioned the world over (including India) earlier, shouldn't he be considered
Red hammer and sicle on transparent background.
 fortunate really? Like I mentioned, collateral damage and miscarriages of justice do happen from time to time in this whole business but many of the ones affected, do not come out of it alive or have recourse to appeals and civil courts of law like Sen has. Read about Bin Laden's driver's case here to get a flavour of what I am talking about (link below)

Bin Laden's driver's trial and sentencing

Given the rules of engagement with terrorism the world over, where, often, agencies and gov-

The Seal of the United States Federal Bureau o...Image via Wikipedia
ernments make up the rules as they go along, and, given the fact that the overall situation  on the ground is far from ideal, if you are a genuine friend of those who may have been wronged, incidentally or accidentally, wouldn't you focus on what best can be done to redress any wrongdoing through appeals to higher courts of law or to the authorities concerned rather than indulging in cheap populism and sensationalism by writing articles & blogs and giving speeches to elitist groups like Arundhati Roy and several others of her kind do? Aren't you worried that such populism & sensationalism may actually influence a higher court of law adversely or prejudice the authorities further?

Do you honestly believe that in matters of terrorism & national security, any agency, court or government the world over, generally gives a rat's ass about what a bunch of civil and human rights activists, elitist pinkos or faux liberals may be saying publicly or writing about in the media? If Sen (and Sanyal and Guha) have genuinely suffered at the hands of the law - and remember that there are always two sides to a story, rather than the one side which you have been mostly reading about, ever since the judgment was delivered - shouldn't his (their?) well-wishers & friends be focussing on how they can strengthen & fast-track his appeal and trial by a higher court of law, rather than running about like headless chickens, screaming about 'injustice' in public and writing columns & blogs which effectively rant about not only the Indian process but the process followed in these cases in much of the rest of the world?

As a result of some of this kind of civil activism and faux liberalism, aren't you bothered about the fact that convicted murderers & terrorists like Afzal Guru & Kasab, live on, despite having been given the death sentence, quite sometime back? Would you ever fancy the job of explaining to the families and loved ones of the 300 plus people who lost their lives in 26/11 why this is so and why, the Indian taxpayer has to contribute to over a billion of rupees needed to maintain these guys in their high security prison for months & years on end?

An Update and a Clarification:

Since I first wrote this piece, which is mostly a compilation of comments I made about the whole affair during discussions in a social media site, I have been somewhat amazed and quite amused by what I can only term  'frothing at the mouth' by a whole array of  activists, mediapersons, PUCL and associated lobbyists, self-appointed opinion moulders and an army of similar persons who seem to have emerged out of the woodwork the moment the judgment was delivered, eager apparently to prove their liberal credentials and rant about the 'David vs. Goliath' syndrome, which apparently in their view is a tried and tested method for instant popularity and serves to establish themselves ostensibly as self-appointed champions of the oppressed and the underprivileged. 

India has a whole host of problems, systemic, political and social among others. As someone remarked quite aptly, 2010 has been India's annus horribilis, serial scams & corruption each bigger than the previous, unholy business-lobbyist-politician nexuses, exposure of large sections of the mainstream media as compromised middlepersons for politicians and businesses and poor governance generally being the principal highlights of the year. There are several positives too, chiefly on the economic and growth fronts. Yet all that seems to have gotten swept under the carpet suddenly, which is typical of what a commentator calls India's general lack of an agenda and lack of focus on the key issues. 

Very few, if any, of these outpourings, have any objective or factual basis, which is typical of what the Indian print & TV media indulges in day in and day out. As an analyst had once aptly stated: "While many other countries have think-tanks and specialized groups to look into important and strategic issues for the state, India has its talk shows instead, which are, in the main, a lot of hot air and presumptive posturing and very little else'.

By way of an update, I am appending below a few select, objective paras excerpted from blogs and news items and a clarification from my end.
In his 92-page judgment, sessions court judge B P Varma first takes up the question of whether Sen passed on seditious letters written by jailed Maoist Narayan Sanyal to Piyush Guha. He concludes Sen did, relying on the testimony of cloth vendor Anil Kumar Singh (apart from two policemen) and rejecting contradictions.

Thereafter, the verdict quotes from several other witness testimonies to establish that Sen had a history of close links with the banned CPI Maoist and supported and sheltered members of its urban network. He dwells on the seizure of postcards written by Narayan Sanyal and another Maoist Madanlal Barkhade from Sen's house, that he says establishes that.

In this context, apart from Sanyal, the judge focuses on two others — Shankar Singh and Amita Srivastava — who he calls 'hardcore Naxals'. The first testimony he cites is that of Deepak Choubey. A resident of Raipur, Choubey said he had rented his father-in-law's house to Sanyal, since he came with a recommendation from 'eminent citizen' Dr Binayak Sen. Choubey claimed Sen had introduced Sanyal as a relative.

Another witness, Arun Dubey, a bank manager, testified that he gave his house on rent to Shankar Singh, who worked for Rupantar, the NGO headed by Sen's wife Ilina Sen. Dubey said Sen and Sanyal would often visit his tenant Singh and Amita, who Singh introduced as his 'bhaujai' or sister-in-law. Two school prinicipals testified that they hired Amita on Ilina's recommendation. One of them, Meena Puri said Amita left the job abruptly without tendering a resignation.

The judge quotes the testimony of police inspector B S Jagrit, who claims Amita and Shankar absconded soon after Sanyal was arrested. He also quotes Sher Singh Bande of the Churia police station who said the two were among the Naxals active along the Chhattisgarh-Maharahstra border, high-level Naxal meetings would take place here, attended among others by Sen and Ilina.
- From --Excerpted from a TOI report
This sentiment is repeated in different ways in the general chatter about the Binayak Sen verdict—he is an awarded doctor with a sterling record of public service and what a terrible country India is when such a man be punished when corrupt officials who siphoned off crores walk free? Unfortunately all of this is emotional hot-air used by activists, with a definite agenda, to provoke an emotional response rather than a cerebral one. Even the LET’s parent organization does extensive social work in Pakistan and Kashmir as part of their outreach activities and, for that matter, so do Naxals themselves—-as a matter of fact, C. Vanaja’s extremely sympathetic dispatches on the developmental work done by Naxalsswere themselves awarded by the Prime Minister of India as part of the RN Goenka sponsored  “Uncovering India Invisible”. Hence using Dr. Sen’s record of altruism is neither here nor there and should have no bearing on whether he is a criminal or not except proving that unlike champagne liberal hypocrites of the Azmi and the Roy type, this man has the conviction to walk the talk. Which is admirable no doubt. Also just because corrupt officials go unpunished should not excuse Dr. Sen, should he be guilty, as two wrongs we all know just make two wrongs and not one right.
Similarly some of the defenses given by his supporters available on the PUCL website are structured like this: “Mr. X could not have written the letter as he was arrested six days ago. There is no record of him being arrested of course but Mr. X has told us he was arrested and we believe him.” However what is pretty clear, and that has not even been denied much also, is that Dr. Sen is a strong Maoist sympathizer. Searches of his house revealed ultra-Left literature and I think we can all agree that if you have a stash of Playboys in your cabinet, one can safely say that you like women.  Dr. Sen had been actively working in the legal defense of Naxal terrorists like Narayan Sanyal which explains the cash found on him which was going to be used as payment for Sanyal’s lawyers.
        --Excerpted from Arnab Ray's blog. Link to complete piece below

And now, my clarification:
When I said I do not know about the case, I meant exactly that. While commenting on the topic, I saw scores of articles comments & pieces on the net. I did briefly browse quite a few of those. What his friends, wife, lawyers or PUCL fellow members & activists may be saying or screaming from the rooftops is not quite relevant and obviously slanted for various reasons in any case. As slanted and pointless as comments I came across on some forums by a cross-section of readers which stated that he should be hanged, shot, thrown to the wolves etc., for having colluded with killers and murderers.
Well, comment of any kind is free and the tainted Indian print & TV media, desperate to grab ‘breaking news’ of one kind or another indulges in it to ridiculous extents often. In addition there are the so-called opinion leaders, special interest groups and the general public who are ever ready to voice their opinion and argue topics about which often they know very little or nothing.
However this particular case has been decided on by a court of law and if at all the judgment delivered is to be modified or amended in any way, it is only a higher court of appeal that can do that. No amount of song and dance in any forum or repetition of certain views & opinions which have no substantive basis will help and should not either as that would mean subverting the legal process which is fraught with deadly implications. So, anything anyone says without any expertise of legal affairs or knowledge of legal statutes or even without doing some research on the basics of the case as I have mentioned earlier is at best shooting the shit.

I am not a legally trained professional. I have no access to the transcripts of the court proceedings or even summaries of those over the 3.5 years that the case went on. Even if I had I wouldn’t quite know how to interpret them as per applicable statutes. I wouldn’t quite know why exactly the High Court & the Supreme Court struck down the bail application of the accused initially and why subsequently, on appeal, the Supreme Court granted it. I have no access to the 92 page judgement (written in Hindi as is fairly common in Hindi speaking states). Even if I had it, I wouldn’t quite understand the particular provisions of the law the judge had considered while coming to certain conclusions based on the court proceedings and the evidence & arguments presented by both the sides. Therefore I do not know about such matters and never quite will. And I consider it ludicrous to express opinions of one kind or another on any topic about which I have little knowledge and no expertise.

Kasab's security may cause monorail expenses of Rs. 44 crores

The Argumentative, Faux Liberal Indian

The Case for hanging Kasab without further delay

A TOI article from Nov 2009 estimating costs of keeping Kasab in prison

Related Links:

Arnab Ray's Blog Piece about Binayak Sen's case

Binayak Sen case raises questions about anti-Naxal measures


  1. Arin Basu (in FB)

    I do see the points you make and indeed they merit discussion. While we are on this, I think from what i have read consistently, Binayak Sen cannot be called a Maoist guerilla or a theorist, he has not profited from any business that has depleted forest resources or has something that may be seen as destructive to the nation or abetting terrorism in any way. He is a doctor, has been a civil liberties champion and that role brought him in touch with people who were denied their right one way or another, and he has been quite a vocal critic of the Chattisgarh government. I think his and the cases of the other two are not comparable as far as the position of the Government in this case is concerned.

    I think that the Maoist situation needs to be addressed efficiently, in a planned way, with determinism, using approaches across disciplines, much more creatively. On the other hand, punishing/silencing/marginalizing people like Binayak Sen to challenge Maoism, if that is the state's ulterior objective, is a sure recipe for disaster! And Not just for the state but for the entire nation. There is a need to think clear headed and a case to stand up for justice and reason.

    I have read comments where people remarked that he was given a chance to defend himself and there are rooms for further appeal as if that's some form of privilege as opposed to a right. I think one needs to be mindful that at the end of the day, with all it's shortcomings and problems, India is still an open democratic country, and therefore these are norms, and there will be hope for better senses to prevail. One hopes that it all ends in justice.

  2. I have nothing against this guy. I also refuse to hold a candle for him. As mentioned I just don't know enough authenticated facts about the whole case and the larger issues involved.

    The rant by the groups I have alluded to in cyberspace, ever since the judgment was delivered, as well as the rather long discussions led me to check out some facts re: the case, shorn of the loud opinions, condemnations etc., Here are some:

    1. The case went on for over two years, 97 witnesses took the stand and the judgement delivered is a long and detailed one.
    2. Sen's bail application was initially turned down by the highest court in the land and later, granted on appeal.

    3. A constant stream of fiery writings, condemnations, appeals from international celebrities and media hype has been kept up right throughout the 2 years since he was first incarcerated. I would look at some of that with a good deal of suspicion since it would clearly appear to be an ongoing blatant attempt to influence the judgment.

    4. Whether he has indeed colluded with or abetted terrorism by the Naxalites / Maoists is something I can't just comment on. I refuse to go along with pinkos, civil right activists, faux liberals etc., who are jumping around condemning the judgment. Just because they keep up a media blitz of sorts against it doesn't mean much to me. The whole matter is now before the law of the land. Sen and his camp have stated explicitly they will be appealing against it. It is possible that the judgment is correct in the main, though an appeals court might change the sentence handed out. It is possible that there has been miscarriage of justice in which case, at some stage, a higher court would overturn the verdict. It would be downright presumptuous of me to dole out summary opinions about it all, like some of these special interest groups are doing constantly.

    5. From the facts that I have come across ever since this started it seems quite clear that Sen was a long-time sympathizer of the Naxalites and possibly given his background, at least an informal ideologue of sorts. So was Narayan Sanyal possibly in a more formal way. If Sen's case is to appealed against, why can't Sanyal's be similarly reviewed?

    6. Charu Majumdar & Kanu Sanyal were ideologues of the Naxalite movement in the 60s. They had often argued subsequently that they were mere ideologues and had never condoned the violence, mayhem and murders let loose by their supporters and followers. While that issue may never ever be resolved, the resultant mayhem was all too real, visible and frightening and it is my belief that at least there was an indirect abetment if not a direct one.

    7. Social work, activism and helping the cause often become indistinguishable & blurred at some stage. Refer the 95%; 5% example in Le Carre's novel. However the 5% or 10% at times could be devastating or bad enough.



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