Mr P Chidambaram, Union Home Minister is an extremely cerebral man, well versed in nuance and complexity. To debate with him is a delight which is why I think that rather than Dr Binayak Sen being carted off to jail for life for specious charges of sedition Mr Chidambaram should sit across a table and engage the good doctor in debate.
I would think both would gain. And, Mr Chidambarm, the naturally rational person that he is, would think it to be productive discussion about what is actually going in Red country. However, consider the alternative.
Is it really necessary for an engaged democracy where freedom of thought and speech are not hollow catch-words to not be able to differentiate between an armed militia which calls Parliament a pig-sty and a healer?
Is it wrong for us, those who have the privilege of an education to also have empathy to get beyond the mundane confines of our existence and also think of people who are desperately poor and
living on the edge?
A democracy should be judged by the quality of its dissent and by its ability to be able to digest dissention.
Why this desperate urge to put labels on people and brand them! We are a mature nation not a marketing endeavour. And, while their should be no negotiations with people who believe in a violent liberation struggle, what is the harm in talking to people who have seen the other side and have a point-of-view.
Sure they may not agree with you. But, does it give us a right to jail them.
Dr Sen's only crime is that he felt that empathy, felt the pull of the full spectrum of the rainbow beyond the confines of a tiny pill-box life.
Listen to Mrs Ilena Sen's dignified response and feel the pain. Dr Sen's conviction diminishes us all…
Sure, say that smug know it alls that he will appeal and get justice. But, justice is a right of every citizen and should not brook appeal.
And, what about those Dr Sen was fighting for? How much fairness have we shown them?
Giving dignity to the dispossessed so they do not turn to the maoists is only good politics. Why do we want to wage war on our own people? And, as members of civil society, and not the loony maoist loving fringe, point out what about addressing first principles?
As a lawyer who learnt his law in the Harvard law school where burning the American flag is a hoary ritual, Mr Chidambaram needs to intervene, needs to get this conviction set aside so that he can get on with the business of tackling the maoists who deserve his full attention.
As for Dr Sen, he should be allowed life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
I am sure that the American constitution has a lot of resonance for all of us who believe in universal human values.
After-all the constitution came after throwing off the British yoke. And, just a tiny aide-de-memoire the British used the same section of law that is being used against Dr Sen to put Mahatma Gandhi in jail.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)