On May 19, pursuant to a magistrate's order, my brother accompanied the police to his home to enable their search for any evidence that could yield incriminating links to Maoists that would support the police allegation. They found none, despite the huge library of books, journals and videos in the apartment. (I should know: many of them were from my own collection, which I handed over to Dada before I left for Turkey.) What they found is some correspondence from Narayan Sanyal, the seventy year old Maoist leader presently incarcerated in Raipur jail, but these had the seal of the jail officials on them. Presumably these are in token of approving their delivery to my brother in connection with his human rights work. The police also took away my brother's computer.
A complete list of material seized is given below in the update.
But this is how it is being reported in some of the mainstream press. This the second instance of mainstream papers acting as stenographers to the police: simply passing on the police version, without bothering to check on their claims.
Another troubling tendency that seems to be emerging is the repetitive description of Dr. Binayak Sen as a Naxalite sympathizer or even a Naxalite leader. The fact is that that he is neither. His work in the PUCL requires attending to under-trial prisoners, petitioning the government on cases where the state has failed to uphold its own laws, and abused human rights. (I will be writing a more detailed post later about my brother's work.) In Chhattisgarh, where the main human rights abuses are occurring in the context of the Salva Judum and the so-called Naxalite "movements", this often means representing Naxalite activists in jail. This is no different from lawyers defending other kinds of prisoners, without defending the criminal acts of which they have been accused. When the PUCL confronts the state, it is over questions of law - which is exactly the kind of accountability one should expect in a democracy. At no stage has Dada been complicit in Maoist violence, or approved of it. But it's a pity that the press often seems to be complicit in the abuses of the state by reporting them without performing their elementary journalistic duty of checking on the claims of the police.
The search was conducted in the presence of armed police, but the journalists and independent observers and human rights activists were not allowed into the apartment. The proceedings were recorded by both the police and Boudi. The daughters were also present, but it's not clear whether they were in the apartment during the search. Both Boudi and the younger daughter, Aparajita, gave interviews to the press. Aparajita, who is only sixteen, spoke with great calm and assurance. She said, among other things, that none of these events had surprised her in the least, because she was fully aware of the nature of her father's work, and the dangers that it posed.
Apart from the one I linked to in my previous posts, there are other petitions for Dada's release that are circulating. Here is one from his alma mater, the Christian Medical College in Vellore. Another was forwarded to me by a well-wisher in Atlanta GA, which he had drafted himself, and which were forwarded to over 700 people.
One fact that needs to be highlighted: the police have yet to produce a First Information Report, the BASIC requirement for a court case to be instituted against my brother. Yet they have held him in prison, and started a media campaign of spreading lies about my brother, in which the Times of India and Hindustan Times seem to be complicit. Fortunately, not all media outlets are so supine.
UPDATE FROM PUCL CHHATTISGARH PRESS RELEASE DATED MAY 19, 2007:
Here (thanks to PUCL Chhattisgarh) is the complete list of documents and digital material seized by the police from my brother's home. He was also prevented from addressing the media to rebut the lies that the police chose to spread while addressing the press and media representatives gathered outside his home.
Although the police was claiming in front of the media that they had found some significant documents, a copy of the seizure memo enlisting all the material exposes the "white lie" of the police. These are as follows:
1. Five CDs, mostly pertaining to the various investigations regarding Fake Encounters in Gollapalli, Katgaon, Surguja, and Jharkhand, which were made during the PUCL investigations, and contain interviews with the concerned citizens. PUCL has been distributing these for the last two years.
2. The Computer CPU, yet to be examined by experts;
3. A post-card dated 3.6.2006 written to Dr. Binayak Sen by the CPI (Maoist) leader, Sri Narayan Sanyal lodged at the Raipur Central Jail, regarding his health as well as legal case, which is duly signed by the Jail authorities carrying the Seal of the Jail Authorities;
4. News-paper clippings dated 19.6.2006, 8.4.2006, 27.8.2006, 26.12.2006, 21.8.2006, 8.1.2007, 21.12.2006 (Total 10 paper cuttings)
5. A Yellow coloured booklet "ON THE UNITY BETWEEN CPI (Peoples' War) AND MAOIST COMMUNIST CENTRE" in Hindi
6. A Letter written by Madanlal Banjare (a member of the CPI- Maoist) from Jail addressed to "Priya [dear] Comrade Binayak Sen" revealing the inhuman conditions and illegal activities in Raipur Central Jail. (PUCL NOTE: This letter was later sent to all newspapers and electronic media by the PUCL, and was prominently published in some newspapers);
7. A Xeroxed Article in English entitled: "Naxal Movement, Tribals and Women's Movement"
(PUCL NOTE: This Article is based on a dialogue carried out in Andhra Pradesh during the period of the Peace Talks and was later published in the prestigious periodical Economic & Political Weekly, Mumbai)
8. A hand written photocopied note of 4 pages on "How to build an Anti-US Imperialist Front.";
9. Eight page Article entitled: "KRANTIKARI JANWADI MORCHA (ITF) VAISHAVIKARAN AWAM BAHRTIYE SEVA KSHETRA; (Globalization and the Service Sector in India)
10. A recent document dated 18.7.06 of CPI (M) "Recent Police Activities and Labourers". B.10;
11. A Book on 'SALWA JUDUM :Bastar ki janata par Fasivadi hamla' [Salwa Judum: Fascist Attack on te People of Bastar] published by the Committee of Tribals affected by Salwa Juroom (48 pages); in which on page number 41 is a Press Release Maowadiyon aur Bhautiki Jan Samasyayon par Jari Barbarta sarkaar prayojit Salwa Judum ka Virodh Karo dated 11th March 2006 ( One page);
12. One issue of 'Peoples' March' (December 2004)published from Ernakulam, Kerala, (Registration Number :RNI N0: KER/ENG 2000/2051)