Shoma Chaudhury in Tehelka, via Amitava Kumar:
Far away from the glittering salons of Bombay and Delhi, away from its obsessions with booming malls and plummeting stocks, a good man waits in jail. He’s been in for nine months. But it is unlikely that the story of Dr Binayak Sen would have caught your attention. He’s been written about in bits. Some channels have covered him. But even though he is a mesmeric character — intense, articulate, idealistic, a man of privilege who seeks nothing for himself — and his imprisonment is a scandal that should shame any civilised society, for the most part, news of him here has been overwhelmed by hotter media preoccupations. Lead India competitions. And polls on who should be awarded Indian of the Year. Shah Rukh, Manmohan, or Vijay Mallya? Men like Dr Binayak can wait their turn in jail.
The story of Binayak Sen is the story of the dangerously thin ice India’s democratic rights skim on. The story of every dangerous schism in India today: State versus people. Urban versus rural. Unbridled development versus human need. Blind law versus natural justice. It is the story of an India unraveling at the seams. The story of unjust things that happen — unreported — to thousands of innocent people, the story of unjust things waiting to happen to you and me, if we ever step off the rails of shining India to investigate what’s happening in the rest of the country. Most of all, it is the story of what can be done to ordinary individuals when the State dons the garb of being under siege.
But, first the facts of the story…