The government of India needs to repeal the sedition law, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), said civil rights activist Binayak Sen at a felicitation function in Kalyani, West Bengal.
Earlier, Sen had accused the government of misusing the sedition laws to silence voices of dissent. Sen said that many voluntary organizations as well as individuals are coming out in support to raise their voice for amendment of the UAPA. He said that human rights groups would collect signatures of 10 million people against the sedition law and that it would be sent to parliament.
A paediatrician and public health specialist, Sen is also the national vice-president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). He was granted bail on April 15 by the Supreme Court after being sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of sedition by Chhattisgarh High Court. Sen has already appealed against the conviction in the high court, the acceptance of which is pending.
On new chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s announcement that she would solve the Maoist problem in Jungle Mahal within three months, Sen said, ‘I strongly believe that a solution can only be reached through dialogue to bring members of subversive groups into the mainstream.’
Asked if he supported Banerjee’s movement against forcible land acquisition, Sen said, ‘As far as I have heard, what she is doing is for the good of the people. I support this kind of movement.’
Advising the new government to spend more on public health infrastructure, Sen said, ‘Unless you develop infrastructure, there is no use pumping money into health projects.’
Last week, Sen received the 2011 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in South Korea. Gwangju is South Korea’s most prestigious award for those working on peace, democracy and justice in Asia.