Indian High Court To Consider Jailed Activist's Case Dr. Binayak Sen, a civil-liberties advocate, faces a life sentence for sedition. Supporters say he is being persecuted for defending the rights of tribal people in one of India's poorest states. Opponents, however, say he supported an outlawed rebel group that was blamed for thousands of civilian deaths.
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Indian High Court To Consider Jailed Activist's Case

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Indian High Court To Consider Jailed Activist's Case

Indian High Court To Consider Jailed Activist's Case

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from New Delhi.

COREY FLINTOFF: Unidentified Woman: (Speaking foreign language)

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTS)

CROWD: (Chanting in foreign language)

FLINTOFF: One of the speakers is public interest lawyer Prashant Bhushan. He says Sen is the victim of a siege mentality among Chhattisgarh officials who equate any kind of opposition with support for the rebels and come down harshly on dissenters.

PRASHANT BHUSHAN: Particularly one who is opposing the economic policies of the state - handing over the land of the tribals to these big corporations - is being branded as a Maoist and being targeted.

FLINTOFF: Chandan Mitra is the editor of the Hindu nationalist newspaper The Pioneer and a member of parliament from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. He says that Sen espouses a violent ideology.

CHANDAN MITRA: The people whom he supports have been indulging in acts of wanton violence, killing people and vowing to overthrow the democratically constituted state of India.

FLINTOFF: Mitra says the left-wing intellectuals who support Sen forget that India is in a life-or-death struggle with Maoist guerillas who are aiming to create a red corridor through India, from Nepal in the north to Sri Lanka in the south. Mitra says Sen knew what he was doing when he allegedly aided those rebels.

MITRA: So I think it's a fairly clear-cut case where somebody knowingly did something which is wrong, under the existing law, and therefore has been punished.

FLINTOFF: Most of the activists who've been supporting Sen believe that the case against him will fall apart once it moves up to the Indian Supreme Court.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEAKER)

FLINTOFF: This is Nandini Sundar, an anthropologist who's worked extensively with the tribal people in Chhattisgarh. She says the law is clearly on Sen's side.

NANDINI SUNDAR: There is no evidence that Binayak has ever been involved in inciting violence against the state, or has ever said anything seditious that would challenge the constitution of the state or, you know, the constitution itself.

FLINTOFF: Corey Flintoff, NPR News, New Delhi.

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