The life imprisonment of Dr Binayak SenBMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d262 (Published 19 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d262
- P Zachariah, retired professor of physiology1,
- Ravi Narayan, community health adviser2,
- Rakhal Gaitonde, national co-convenor3,
- Sara Bhattacharji, professor4,
- Anand Zachariah, professor of medicine1,
- Thelma Narayan, coordinator5
- 1Christian Medical College, Periyar Nagar, Vellore 632 002, India
- 2Society for Community Health, Awareness, Research, and Action, Bangalore, 560 034, India
- 3Medico Friend Circle and Community Health Cell, T Nagar, Chennai, 600 017, India
- 4Community Health and Development, LCEU/CHAD, Christian Medical College, Vellore
- 5Centre for Public Health and Equity, Koramangala, Bangalore, 560 034, India
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⇓.
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 …