Binayak Sen – connecting the dots.

Arindam Bandyopadhyay

(published in www.ivarta.com)

Fans of Dr. Binayak Sen, a Maoist sympathizer, convicted with life imprisonment for charges of sedition and anti-national activities, by trial court and whose initial bail appeal was rejected by Chhattisgarh high court, have ample reasons for jubilation in recent times. Not only did the Supreme Court grant him a bail but he was also appointed to the National Health Planning Commission’s steering committee.

It is no secret that Dr Sen enjoys a huge popularity and has a long list of national and international supporters, including Nobel laureates like Amartya Sen, other prominent Indians including leftist academician Romila Thapar, Christian leader John Dayal, ill-famed activists Teesta Setalvad, self proclaimed Swami Agnivesh and Suzanna Arundhati Roy, a seditionist and a pro-Maoist herself.

Statements of support for him had come from Amnesty International, The Global Health Council, and various national and international institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge of United States.

His arrest has even been lamented on a British Medical Journal editorial and termed a ‘mockery of justice’ by Lancet, another medical journal form England.

No wonder, he was endorsed by 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights and the South Korean Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 2011.

The Binayak Sen case has brought our judicial system on to the dissection table. A section of the citizen seem to think that trial court and high court decisions need not be honored and respected, unless a verdict is favorable. The widespread nature of the protests and the vitriolic condemnation that was thrown from all quarters at the lower court’s decision just because it was against the likings of Dr Sen and his supporters, starting from the Maoists themselves up to those in Vatican City, defies logic, unless it is believed that some people think they are special and hence above ‘common laws’ of the country. Unfortunately such whirlwind of protest has also dragged in many unsuspecting onlookers from various walks of life, from students to general public, artists to intellectuals, to join the demonstration across the country and abroad.

Nevertheless, in the imperfect socio-political system that we belong to, where scams and scandals are tumbling from the closet almost daily, there is bound to be some skepticism when unusual things happens specially involving controversial people. And most will agree that nominating Binayak Sen, who has not yet been cleared from his sentence for life imprisonment for charges of sedition and anti-national activities, to the National Health Planning Commission’s steering committee is not only unusual but also against all norms and propriety

The least one can hope is that our Prime Minister, who happens to be the Chairman of the Planning Commission is made aware so that he cannot plead ignorance as he did with the appointment of P J Thomas as the Central Vigilance Commissioner

But in reality it is clear that some strong power is backing Dr Sen. This is obvious from the mind-boggling support and patronage that Dr Sen has been provided all along, including that of multiple Nobel Laureates. One can further judge the level of international interest and influence by the fact that a team of Europeon Union delegates had requested and was actually allowed to attend and monitor Dr Sen.’s court hearings following approval by hidden hands in the External Affairs Ministry of the Government of India.

Surely Binayak Sen is not the first or the only accused, who feels that he may be a victim of injustice, nor is his case the biggest or the most significant in an international or even national scale. Thus it would be extremely naïve to assume that he just got very lucky to draw the huge amount of national and international attention.

As expected, a large group of Dr Sen’s supporters belong to the leftist – quasi liberal – pseudo secular and minority focused Indian civil right activists groups who are often seen up in arms in an orchestrated fashion against common interests, but only in selected cases that give them enough fame and mileage. In the past, they were heard protesting the Gujarat riots of 2002 or the Orissa riots of 2008 but they never spend a word on the 58 Hindus burnt alive in the Godhra express carnage or the brutal killing of the 84 year old, Hindu Swami Lakshmanananda and his associates as the cause of those riots. You did not hear them lament for the lives of our security forces but saw them meeting hardliner separatist leaders for peace initiative, whatever that means. Intriguingly, while elsewhere in the world, Islam and Christianity are in religious conflicts, it is interesting that in India they work shoulder to shoulder whenever they find a cause to fight the majority Hindus.

Perhaps they learn this art of selectivity from the international human rights organizations like Amnesty International that has been up against the Sri Lanka government for coming down heavily against LTTE, an organization with open Christian ties but somehow miss the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits.

It is a profitable and thriving business to be a civil activist or to be associated with a non-Government organization (NGO). Besides providing a sense of superiority and the right to criticize indiscriminately, it also provides an opportunity for continuous limelight and media attention, without necessarily shouldering any responsibility. Most NGOs are not people’s organizations as they are projected but often facades of some well-connected and well-off people.

Indian NGOs collectively receive huge financial support from abroad, often in unaccountable deals. In the decade 2000-2009, about 36000 Indian NGOs received foreign funding of Rs.69,000 crores and in 2008-09 only 55% of them reported their accounts. For some NGOs, up to 70% expenditure is done on establishment and travels.

A large number of these Indian NGOs have western connections and often are religiously affiliated to Christianity and / or involved in missionary sponsored activities. Western money funded, Christian NGOs top the list of foreign contribution recipients and it is now an open secret that at least some of that money is spent on various nefarious activities like money laundering, illegal conversion and other blatant anti-Indian use, including funding Maoists and Terrorists.

According to Tehelka, almost all evangelical organizations in India and non-Catholic churches and the Christian NGOs get their funding from their American patrons or from USAID. The largest of such, World Vision, has consultative status with UNESCO and partnerships with UN agencies like UNICEF, WHO, UNHCR and ILO. Thus one can imagine their reach and influence. World Vision’s conversion activities and NGO-Maoist nexus was accused as the root cause of separating the tribal of Orissa that lead to the Khandamal Riot after the brutal killings of Swami Lakshmanananda in 2008 that was carefully camouflaged as Maoist violence. It is used as the harping point of the dubious United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to keep India on a watch list that was gleefully welcomed by John Dayal, secretary of the All India Christian Council.

These self-appointed foreign religious policemen conveniently overlook such Christian sponsored terrorist outfits of North East Indian states like the Nagaland and Tripura or the large-scale conversions and ethnic cleansing sponsored by the Church of Mizoram and neighboring Assam.

To sum up, there seem to be a Christian – western scheme working in full gear in India, where unaccountable foreign money is pouring into India as ‘aid’, that is further funneled though well organized NGOs and activists, who claim to work in tribal and backward areas for development of the “poor and downtrodden”. In effect though, they are involved, overtly or covertly, in various subversive activities. These same areas then happen to give birth to separatists like Maoists and terrorist organizations, which flourish and not unexpectedly happen to promote Christian agendas including illegal conversions and ethnic cleansing. They instigate local agitation with terror and mayhem and then cry foul when retaliated upon or when law and order machinery works against them, taking shelter under such umbrellas as ‘human rights’ or ‘minority protection’ as applicable. They further utilize their civil society friends and other support system including the paid media, to spread their story to national and international audience, in an effort to create pressure over local bodies, judiciary and government alike.

What has all of this to do with Binayak Sen?

Besides being a hotbed for Maoist activities, Chhattisgarh state has also been the site of persistent Christian protests for its anti conversion stand. The CM of Chhattisgarh, Mr. Raman Singh had this to say recently, regarding protests against Binayak Sen’s arrest, “…during the last two years, no one from Chhattisgarh has led a protest in any town, village or city. These protesters came from outside—they would come in aeroplanes, wearing good clothes and perfume. No one recognized that these well-dressed people were coming from France and London. … (Sen) has links with NGOs that work in Chhattisgarh. His close links with missionaries are well known.”

Thus one wonders whether the support of Dr Sen especially from international personnel and organization has anything to do with his association with NGOs, Christians and missionaries.

While Dr Sen has been convicted for his role in pro Maoist activities and while even Church leaders admit that Maoists are sympathetic to the Church and are supporting the priests in carrying out their missionary activities, we are not aware of any direct association between Dr Sen and evangelical or missionary activities though there are ample evidences to suggest that there is a huge Christian backing for him.

Incidentally, Binayak Sen and his wife have an NGO outfit called Rupantar, which reportedly harbored Maoist employees and had bank accounts worth Rs. 4 million without tax returns.

According to his wife, Binayak Sen is associated with Indian Social Institute (ISI) that claims to be engaged in strengthening the people’s movements particularly from among the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, the most Backward Castes, the Minorities, the unorganized and landless laborers and women and incidentally its governing body board members are almost exclusively Christians by name.

Of further interest are news of Christian leaders distressed over conviction of Dr Sen, of the solidarity expressed by The National Council of (Protestant) Churches in India (NCCI) against his conviction, and of the vigor with which his news are published on websites that specialize in Christian prosecution.

In their organized protest including a letter to the PM, representatives of the Delhi Christian community actually compared the ‘situation’ of Binayak Sen to that of Jesus Christ himself and blamed, in a blanket statement, that Human rights defenders are being targeted, and silenced, by all sorts of forces – from sections of the judiciary, administration and police on the one hand to political extremists on the other hand.

One wonders why the Christians leaders are so specifically concerned for Dr Sen?

In this context, it is curious that the first recipient of the South Korean Gwangju Prize for Human Rights award, which Dr Sen got in 2011, was a similar militant and Jesuit activist from Indonesia, who was instrumental in carving out the new Christian country of East Timor with Western aid.

In his defense one may argue that Dr. Binayak Sen, a product of the Vellore Christian Medical College, did actually start working with the poor and underprivileged but somewhere, intentionally or unintentionally, got trapped in the Maoist ideology, like so many others did in the late 60s- early 70s, during the Naxal movements of West Bengal. It is possible that he is just an innocent person who happened to be with wrong people at wrong time and in the process developed some significant acquaintances with Maoists, ending up giving shelters or providing money or acting as an intermediary?

It is even feasible that his popularity is now been used by the central government, aided by civil society activists and NGOs against the state government for political gain. Many of these supporting activists (including noted anti-Hindu personalities like Harsh Mander, John Dayal and Teesta Setalvad) actually also grace the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council which is a superpower that govern the UPA government headed by a meek and often ignorant Prime Minister. As expected, many of these  NAC key members had lambasted the Chhattisgarh trial court ruling calling it a “crime,” a “disgrace” to democracy, a politically motivated “kangaroo trial, with total disregard to the judiciary of the country.

Is there a role of the Catholic high command of the Congress Party or her close and trusted predominantly non-Hindu, associates? In the current state of affairs, where loyal and bogus activists are given free reign to draft rules and supervise over important government institutions though the NAC, one do worry whether indeed we are seeing the making of a banana republic out of India. The recent U turn of Anna Hazare once again confirms that these civil society activist are meant to play special roles that suits the UPA governmant.

The offer and specially the timing of the Planning Commission appointment for Dr Sen make one wonder whether it is part of the sinister design.

Hopefully in due time we will come to know the whole story which our media is too hesitant to investigate or publish now.

Despite our wish to the contrary, we are aware that occasionally our court can be infallible too, as we recently experienced when the honorable Supreme Court chose to reverse its own statement on conversion. We hope that this time, our judiciary stands up and deliver proper justice without being influenced by the cacophony of protests, orchestrated by various vested interest groups of national and international communities.

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