The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


It has been so commonly used to kill voices that mere its mention suffocates now. You can find it happening regularly, unabatedly, if you have the guts to explore the Indian hinterlands. You would find detentions and arrests, simply based on reasons as bizarre as anti-politician slogans to possessing anti-State literature.

It sucks.

‘Political prisoners’ have seldom been a hotly debated issue in India. Dr. Binayak Sen has been an exception but we need to keep in mind that it was not before three years and the mounting national and international pressure of the human rights networks and activists that he could walk free, even then on the Supreme Court orders.

Human rights activist and journalist Seema Azad and her husband Vishwavijay Kamal are the same story as Dr. Binayak Sen and so like many others. They were arrested in February 2010 by the Uttar Pradesh Police for alleged involvement in anti-state activities. And what was recovered from them – Maoist literature said to be seditious in tone. Now it has been a routine debate if such silly reasons could be grounds for arrest under a charge as serious as treason. Even the apex court has come down heavily on such reasoning most notably in Dr. Sen’s case.

But, at the same time, we need to keep in mind what happens at lower courts and most of the high courts. While almost of the lower courts toe the State line pushing the so-called anti-State elements behind the bar, many high courts, too, follow the suit. And unlike Dr. Binayak Sen’s case, many don’t see the mobilized activity and support to reach to the Supreme Court. Fighting a case against the State in SC is a financial problem too, until you get a Good Samaritan in some good lawyer to handle the legal tentacles. So many of such cases seldom come on the radar of ratings-hungry media vehicles as they lack ‘their customized’ news elements.

As reports say, Seema Azad and her husband were arrested from the Allahabad railway station while returning from the International Book Fair in Delhi.  They were labeled as members of the banned outfit Communist Party of India (Maoist). They were slapped with the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other serious sections of the IPC. Let’s see the body of the evidence behind the police wisdom: (The Hindu, June 12, 2012)

Detailed programme of Krantikari Jan Committee from 1 to 26 (month not mentioned); a pamphlet carrying the message of CPI (Maoist); a ‘PLGA' pamphlet related to the arrest of Kobad Gandhi; agenda of ninth NPB meeting on 30 and 31 January; pamphlet calling for the fifth anniversary of the party; pamphlet pertaining to the arrest of central committee members and five activists of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh; pamphlet related to the oath on PLGA day; and about Rs. 50,000 in cash.

Now many of the journalists access and openly flaunt documents on TV screens that are otherwise classified top secrets like defence reports. One poor upshot is the FIRs. FIRs are not supposed to be given to anyone except the parties involved. Anyone can get a copy of FIR. Any one can obtain copy of the case diary of any case running in the lower courts though it is legally not possible. Kashmir separatists are making seditious speeches and organizing rallies every other day. It is happening all the time. Rarely we see action on these acts.

And here, as has been the norm, the police wisdom found its takers. An Allahabad court sentenced the duo to life imprisonment on June 8 this year.

When arrested, Seema Azad was Uttar Pradesh Organizing Secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the organization Dr. Sen has been associated with. A Psychology post-graduate from the Allahabad University, Seema has been branded an anti-State actor based on the evidence the apex court has already refused to accept. While granting bail to Dr. Sen April last year, the SC bench of of Justices H.S. Bedi and C.K. Prasad observed:

“We are a democratic country. He may be a sympathiser. That does not make him guilty of sedition.” Drawing an analogy, he asked Mr. Lalit: “if Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography is found in somebody's place, is he a Gandhian? No case of sedition is made out on the basis of materials in possession unless you show that he was actively helping or harbouring them [Maoists].”

If that be the case and if SC observations are seen as standards in the judicial process, why the Seema and her husband had been incarcerated and later on sentenced?

Like Dr. Sen, Seema, too, has been victim of her acts criticising the State policies. Dr. Sen was one of the pioneers of health care reforms and worked with the Chhattisgarh government on the ‘Mitanin’ project but when he started pointing towards State’s wrong policies and misdeeds towards the tribal and rural people, he was branded a Maoist and put behind bars.

Reports say, Seema too, is a victim of political vendetta. She consistently published articles in her magazine Dastak criticising State policies like Operation Greenhunt and a critical cover story on Mayawati’s land acquisition for the Ganga Expressway project. She was arrested when Mayawati was chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.

There is no wrong in being a Naxal sympathizer. Government is always on the lookout for mediators during any hostage crisis (we saw some of them recently) to talk to the Naxals to secure release of the abducted government functionaries. These mediators openly criticise the State and are soft-spoken towards the Naxals. Aren’t these mediators Naxal sympathizers then?

True, Left-wing extremism is a big threat for the country, but in place of fighting the menace in real terms with clear policies, we find it a mess of misplaced priorities. So, villagers are branded Maoists and killed again in Chhattisgarh and a flip-flop ensues on identity of the victims. So, social activists raising voice against State policies and politicians are branded Maoists and targeted by the State by manipulating the legal framework envisioned to control the internal security threats.

Today, the Allahabad high court was to hear the appeal of Seema and her husband against the lower court decision. It was not on the agenda of many news carriers except few. Later on this evening, when I tried to google information about what happened at the high court, I couldn’t come across even one. I checked the Allahabad high court website but couldn’t trace the information even there.

We need to work on this case and every other the way pressure was created in Dr. Sen’s case to undo the State’s wrong. It’s a long battle, but, we as a society need to realise its importance. We need to learn respecting the voices of dissent.

Why can’t India accept voices like Binayak Sen and Seema Azad?

For how long would we continue with the misplaced priorities to check the internal security threats and in-process, targeting and killing our very own people?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -