Editorials

The life imprisonment of Dr Binayak Sen

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d262 (Published 19 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d262

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. P Zachariah, retired professor of physiology1,
  2. Ravi Narayan, community health adviser2,
  3. Rakhal Gaitonde, national co-convenor3,
  4. Sara Bhattacharji, professor4,
  5. Anand Zachariah, professor of medicine1,
  6. Thelma Narayan, coordinator5
  1. 1Christian Medical College, Periyar Nagar, Vellore 632 002, India
  2. 2Society for Community Health, Awareness, Research, and Action, Bangalore, 560 034, India
  3. 3Medico Friend Circle and Community Health Cell, T Nagar, Chennai, 600 017, India
  4. 4Community Health and Development, LCEU/CHAD, Christian Medical College, Vellore
  5. 5Centre for Public Health and Equity, Koramangala, Bangalore, 560 034, India
  1. chcravi{at}gmail.com

This misconceived application of state power requires international action

Last month a district court of the state of Chattisgarh in central India sentenced Dr Binayak Sen, Indian paediatrician, public health practitioner, and human rights activist, to life imprisonment in a maximum security cell. He was pronounced guilty of sedition and conspiracy against the state.1 This harsh sentence is particularly paradoxical because Sen was recently recognised by the same state as a respected figure in health and social planning, and last year he was given the Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights from the Global Health Council.

STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

His crime according to the judgment was being a collaborator for the underground Maoist movement that is active in the newly created state of Chattisgarh, which has a large indigenous (Adivasi) population, an abundance of forests and natural resources, but economic and health deprivation.

Sen, a community physician, and his wife Ilina are known for their work in primary healthcare among mine workers and indigenous communities. Sen’s commitment to tackling …

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