Binayak Sen demands repeal of sedition laws

Mumbai: Rights activist Binayak Sen on Monday demanded repeal of sedition laws, saying they were being used to "suppress" the voice of the people.

"Sedition laws are not benefiting free people in free polity and they should be repealed. The law is being used to suppress the voice of the people," Sen, currently on bail after being convicted on charges of sedition by a Chhattisgarh court for his alleged links to Naxals, told reporters at the Press Club here.

He said his organisation proposed to launch a campaign against sedition laws.

Sen said the process of expropriation of resources to private interests was increasing and it was against the directive principles of state policy. "Any land acquisition which hands over the resources to private interest is not legitimate."

On public protests against Jaitapur nuclear power plant, he said the people there do not want the project to come up. "Democracy is not limited to elections, but it is about governance by consensus. Democracy demands that people be taken into confidence. In a Sovereign state, it is the people who are sovereign."

Speaking about Salva Judum, the anti-Naxalite militia movement, the activist said it was not a spontaneous movement but a programme "funded by the Chhattisgarh government". He said notwithstanding the state government`s claim in the Supreme Court that they have ended Salva Judum, it was "still in existence".

The apex court has on several occasions disapproved of arming of locals, who are members of the Salva Judum, to take on the Naxalites.

"I want an end to violence and it is possible only when there is equality. Violence does not solve problems…

neither violence of state nor of the people against the state."

On his appointment to the Planning Commission`s committee on health, Sen, a doctor by profession, said he was grateful for the Centre`s gesture, but Chhattisgarh government had responded "bitterly" to it.

Replying to a question on whether the proposed Jan Lokpal bill would end corruption, he said, "Lokpal Bill is an essential item to control corruption but not an answer to corruption. Corruption is happening because of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation."

Sen, who has spent years tending to the sick in the far-flung areas of Chhattisgarh, conceded that it was difficult to find young doctors prepared to work in the jungles, but hoped that things would change.

Deploring the inadequate health care facilities in jails, he said, "One of the main lessons that one learns in prison is that it is a hopeless place."