UPDATE (India): Continuing detention of human rights activist in Chhattisgarh


Urgent Appeal Case: UP-079-2007
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Impunity, Judicial system, Rule of law,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that the detention of Dr. Binayak Sen, a medical doctor and human rights activist based in Chhattisgarh, India has been extended to a further period of 14 days. The AHRC had in the past forwarded an appeal issued by the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), a human rights group based in India on 15 May 2007. The arrest of Dr. Sen is a knee jerk reaction of a state administration that has continuously failed to address the people’s need for the past several years. The extension of judicial remand of Dr. Sen by the court is also questionable and non-justifiable.

Details of the case:

Dr. Sen is a medical doctor practicing in Chhattisgarh state of India. He is also a human rights activist. Dr. Sen is the National Vice-President of a well reputed human rights organisation based in India, the PUCL. Dr. Sen is known for his human rights activism and for his close association with the poor in Chhattisgarh. His medical practice is primarily focused for the poor and the marginalised in the state.

After the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 was enacted and pressed into use in that state Dr. Sen challenged the vires of the Act at the Supreme Court, which was dismissed by the court on the ground that the law was not put to use by the state. However the state government was using the draconian law in several forms. A short study about this law could be found at Preliminary Comments on the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 published by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. The arrest and detention of Dr. Sen is viewed as a knee jerk reaction of the state administration in response to Dr. Sen’s challenge of this draconian law.

The life in Chhattisgarh is marred with violence, by and against the state. The primary reason for violence is the failure of the state to address the needs of its people and the resultant chaos being exploited by the Naxalite and its splinter factions in the state. The AHRC has provided a short comment about the situation in Chhattisgarh in its statement titled ‘A comparison between India and three African states’. For further reading please see ‘The roots of armed rebellion in India’ published by the United Press International. 

Dr. Sen is charged with several offences, also those offences coming under the provisions of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005. The lower courts have repeatedly refused to release Dr. Sen on bail, while also refusing the investigating agency’s demand for custody to question Dr. Sen. This unexplained stand taken by the court raises questions about the purpose of Dr. Sen’s continuation detention.

It is alleged that in detention Dr. Sen is kept isolated and visitors are denied permission to meet Dr. Sen. This is in violation of the Jail Manual, the law applicable for keeping under-trial and convicted detainees.  This was brought to the attention of the court and the court have instructed the jail authorities not to resort to unfair and illegal practices in custody. However, it is alleged that Dr. Sen is still kept in isolation within the detention centre. Dr. Sen is currently detained at the Raipur Central Prison.

While Dr. Sen is detained in custody, the local police is spreading false news about Dr. Sen that he was involved in armed fight against the state through press releases and articles forcefully inserted in local newspapers by the police. Prior to the arrest of Dr. Sen, the police has resorted to similar tactics which has attracted the condemnation by the human rights groups in India. It is also alleged that Dr. Ilina Sen, wife of Dr. Sen is also threatened by the local police with a threat of arrest and detention.

The AHRC is concerned about the safety of Dr. Sen while he is in custody. The AHRC and its local partners are also concerned about the safety of other human rights activists, including Dr. Sen’s family. The AHRC immediately call for an intervention in this case, particularly by letters written to the Chhattisgarh state administration calling the state administration to withdraw the charges against Dr. Sen and to release him from custody.

The AHRC will keep you informed about the further development in the case. However in the meanwhile if you wish to receive any additional information please contact:

Mr. Rajendra K Sail, President –PUCL Chhattisgarh State Chapter, Post Box No. 87, Main Post Office, Raipur – 492001, Chhattisgarh INDIA Email: pucl.cg@gmail.com


Please send letters to the relevant authorities listed below, particularly to the Chief Minister Dr. Ram singh, calling for an immediate investigation into this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dr. Ram Singh
The Chief Minister
The Chief Minister’s Office
Raipur, Chhattisgarh
Email: cmcg@nic.in

Dear Sir

INDIA: Please withdraw the charges against Dr. Binayak Sen, and release Dr. Sen from custody

Name of victim: Dr. Binayak Sen, National Vice-President, the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties, currently detained at Raipur Central Prison
Date of arrest: 14 May 2007

I am writing to you to express my concern about the continuing detention of Dr. Binayak Sen, a well renowned human rights activist and medical doctor of your state. I am aware that Dr. Sen, charged with crimes under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 has been denied bail by the court and is currently detained at the Raipur Central Prison.

I am aware that one of the charges leveled against Dr. Sen is regarding his alleged involvement with the anti-state rebel groups in Chhattisgarh state. However, I am informed that there are no credible evidences to substantiate this allegation. I am surprised by the reaction of the government in arresting a prominent human rights activist and doctor merely because he was involved in providing medical assistance to the poor. I am aware that Dr. Sen’s arrest has brought in enormous criticism against your state administration which is already suffering from a bad image due to maladministration.

Resorting to violence is by no means an invitation for discussion to resolve the issues that your state is currently facing. The very engagement of Salwa Judum, a private army funded and trained by the state is one of the worst acts an administration could do to resolve a crisis. Resolution of a crisis begins with discussion of issues in a peaceful manner. If the state government also resort to violence what is the deference between your administration and the rebels in your state?

In this context I request you to immediately take the following measures:

1. To release Dr. Binayak Sen and withdraw all charges pending against him

2. To order a public inquiry into the entire incident that led to the arrest of Dr. Sen and to make public the findings of the inquiry

3. To withdraw immediately the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 and its application within the state

4. To prohibit immediately the functioning of Salwa Judum and to conduct an inquiry into the past activities of this group engaging the civil society in India

5. To engage with the civil society, other concerned citizen groups and the Government of India to find out ways and means to end the culture of violence in the state

6. To constitute an independent body to find out the atrocities committed by the state agents and the rebels and to make the findings public and to take appropriate actions against the perpetrators through the means accepted by the Criminal Procedure Code of India

7. To effectively engage the Civil Supplies Department of the state to ensure that food distribution among the poorer regions within the state is maintained without failure

8. To take steps to immediately to end feudal rule that is still in force in parts of the state

9. To make sure that the members of the tribal communities and other ordinary people are not forcefully evicted from their lands to meet the requirements of mining companies and those who have been already evicted receive adequate compensation for the damages they suffered

Yours truly



1. Mr. Ramvichar Netam
Home Minister
Office of the Home Minister
Raipur, Chhattisgarh
Email: hmin.cg@nic.in

2. Mr. Shivraj Singh
The Chief Secretary
Government of Chhattisgarh
Raipur, Chhattisgarh
Email: cs-cg@nic.in & shivraj@nic.in

3. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders
Room 1-040, OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10

4. Dr. Manmohan Singh
The Prime Minister
7, Race Course Road, New Delhi 110011
Fax: + 91 11 23019334
Email: pmosb@pmo.nic.in

5. Mr. Natwar K. Singh
External Affairs Minister
Government of India
172, South Block, New delhi 110011
Fax: + 91 11 23793704
Email: eam@mea.nic.in & diream@mea.nic.in 

6. Mr. Nirupam Sen
The Ambassador – New York Permanent Mission
235 East 43rd St.
New York, NY 10017
Fax. + 212 490 9656
Email: india@un.int & indiaun@prodigy.net

7. Mr. Jayant Prasad
The Ambassador – Geneva Permanent Mission
7 bis, rue du Valais
1202 Geneva, Switzerland
Fax. + 41 22 906 86 70
Email: mission.india-cd@ties.itu.int

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ahrchk@ahrchk.org)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : UP-079-2007
Countries : India,
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention, Impunity, Judicial system, Rule of law,