By Gauri Jagatap:
On the 14th of June, Binayak Sen was felicitated with the Gandhi Foundation Peace Award at the House of Lords, London, along with Bulu Imam.
Binayak “Prisoner of Conscience” Sen has been fighting a longstanding battle against the Government of India (GOI) for the Human Rights violation of anti-Naxalite operations while advocating peaceful non-violent political engagement. Binayak Sen, receiver of several prestigious awards from abroad for his work towards medical treatment of the rural poor as well as activism for human rights of the Naxalites alike, remains a prisoner indeed, in the eyes of the Government.
While he was barred from attending the ‘Jonathan Mann Award’ function, where he was to be presented with an award for Global Health & Human Rights, the government has shown a volte-face of sorts by allowing Dr. Sen to travel all the way to London to collect this honor.Â Dr. Sen, who believes in the principles of Gandhi, has been in constant media and government scrutiny for following his very morals.
A felicitation by the Gandhi Foundation only highlights and directs our attention to the fact that along with violations including the murders of unarmed and innocent civilians by the anti-Naxalite movement Salwa Judum, the government sees the pediatrician in the same light, who tried to voice his opinion and went about it peacefully.Â It might be connotated as a shame for the very government which has been holding Sen as a pawn and an example of someone conspiring against the government as he furthers his attempts to evoke the very rights its constitution has enabled for its citizens.
It is this hypocritical view that has been practiced time and again which has led to a scene in which foreign administrations need to make us realize the importance of propagating peace, law and order in the society.
In allowing Binayak Sen to receive his award and essentially speak freely after trying to suppress his voice for as long as 5 years, the government seems to be showing some sign of hope.Â In the rightful words of his wife, who went to collect his Jonathan Mann Award,Â “It is impossible to seek a purely law and order or vigilante solution to what are basically the problems of non-inclusive growth…We are firmly committed to Peace: but to a Peace animated by justice and equity and based on the values of life and liberty. In the absence of these, restoration of peace through military action can only lead to the graveyard of peoples’ aspirations.”
As Dr. Sen expressed his prospect of trying to stay out of jail, his statement serves as a slap to the government, which instead of focusing on re-evaluating its policies, is keen on making Dr. Sen a scapegoat.Â In suppressing Sen’s voice, the government has led to an uproar of sorts, as thousands have begun to condemn its actions. And in giving him a voice, it has given a voice for innocent civilians as well who have continued to tarnish under rebellious policies of the government.
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