Read what's below in that light.
The Supreme Court will hear today (April 15), barring yet another adjournment sought by the Government of Chhattisgarh, the appeal for bail for Binayak Sen.
Right off the bat, there's this comment (Hindi) to remember from the Home Minister of Chhattisgarh, Nankiram Kanwar: that since some doctors in Ganiyari, he thinks, are working for Sen's bail, they have "Naxal connections". With the reasonable assumption that doctors in Ganiyari are in no way privileged over the rest of us, we may assume from Shri Kanwar's reasoning that anyone who works for Sen's bail has "Naxal connections."
Therefore Shri Kanwar must believe that the lawyers arguing the bail appeal today in the Supreme Court have Naxal connections. He must believe that the innumerable groups and individuals all over India, indeed all over the world, who have asked for Sen's release all have Naxal connections. He must believe that the 20-plus Nobel prize winners who have asked for Sen's release have Naxal connections.
Perhaps this is a farce that I should not be taking seriously. But I cannot help wondering, how is it that Sen's detractors -- and there are plenty of those -- are unable to see the case against him for what it is: a tissue of whisper and insinuation that on even the most cursory examination holds no water? In other words, a farce.
I mean, think of it: if a Home Minister -- a Home Minister! -- is this oblivious of the working of law and justice, what does that say about his government's case against this man?
But you don't even have to read that news report to wonder on these lines. The case is full of stuff that should give any reasonable Indian enough questions to ask.
* One chargesheet against Sen starts by saying he met Naxals "accused of murder", "looting", "kidnapping", and "he has been meeting Narayan Sanyal repeatedly." (Sanyal, of course is the 70+ year-old imprisoned man whose meetings with Binayak Sen are the basis of this case). All of which may be true, but where's the crime in meeting such men? It may offend you, but where's the crime? Even Sen's detractors, surely, must wonder about the legitimacy of guilt by association?
* Next, the same chargesheet has a couple of paragraphs near the start that talk of a Maoist magazine seized from another accused in this case, Piyush Guha. The paragraphs tell us that this magazine talks of boycotting the Lok Sabha elections, "strengthening the guerrilla Army", etc. No mention of Sen anywhere. Then there's one sentence I'll spell out in a bit. Then there's a list of Maoist crimes: they destroy schools and bridges, they are dangerous, they are creating terror around the country, they battle CRPF personnel in Dantewada, etc. Still no mention of Sen.
No, but the sole mention of Sen in all this is in that sentence right in the middle: "Like this accused Piyush Guha together with Dr. Binayak Sen with directions from Narayan Sanyal was working for the Maoist organization."
Nice, no? Mention a magazine owned by an accused. Mention what it contains. Fill half a page listing Maoist crimes. Somewhere in the middle, toss in a mention of Binayak Sen and his co-accused.
This is not even guilt by association. This is guilt by the hope that when you stumble across names stuck in the middle of a critique of Maoists, you will just assume those names are Maoist too.
There is just plenty more of this stuff, too much for a mere blog post. Riding on such tissue, a man has been sentenced to life in prison.
To me, Sen's case raises plenty of questions about us, for us. But maybe it raises this one above all: why is it that as soon as a government mentions the word "Maoist", so many of us willingly give up thinking?