NL Interviews Binayak & Ilina Sen

Binayak & Ilina Sen speak to Madhu Trehan on being charged with sedition, working in Chhatisgarh, “convict warders”, exposing the truth about the Salwa Judum, the criminalisation of dissent by the govt, the future of adivasis, the futility of the Maoist armed struggle and more…

Binayak & Ilina Sen speak to Madhu Trehan on being charged with sedition, working in Chhatisgarh, “convict warders”, exposing the truth about the Salwa Judum, the criminalisation of dissent by the govt, the future of adivasis, the futility of the Maoist armed struggle and more…

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  • Prakash Iyer
    A post written during the time Binayak Sen case was on, it argues how its not as black and white as most of the media has articulated.


    I could find only 2 books on Indian jail System:

    Prisons and Society: A Study of the Indian Jail SystemAuthorJaytilak Guha Roy

    Indian Prison System [Hardcover]Amarendra Mohanty (Author), Narayan Hazary (

    what horrendous situation in a country , where neither read books nor publish or write them
    may someone bless India

  • Mahendra

    PUCL is a front for maoists, anyone with common sense would know that, how come madhu missed it? This Ilina Sen seems a manipulator and crook, that communist arrogance is allover her. Wonder how these communists are able to cultivate friends all over the world?Any one who rants ill about India are welcome everywhere. Salwa judum of course was supported by state, but it’s also a fact that those part of the salwa judum were reacting to the subjugation and interference of maoists in their local affairs. who gives a fucking damn about what these people think of India, why we need certificates all the time?guess slavery still flows in our veins. i have never seen any tribal s speaking for themselves, it’s always these activists and extremists who hijack these causes and further their own political ideologies. Madhu please don’t join those club of Delhi bimbo journalists, it’s not just as simple as it seems. Ever tried to get the version of police who risk their lives fighting these dogs/how much they are paid and in what conditions they are working

    • Ashok Jahnavi Prasad

      Does the comment have to be peppered with such profane expletives! Even if the observer is an objective analyser of the events as he witnesses them,I do not think it is necessary to lower one’s prestige by usage of these expletives! On the issue itself, my own understanding would lead me to infer differently-the maximum support that Binayak Sen received was incidentally from those who would puke at being appellated ‘communists’ ie the human rights lobby in the US and Sweden. From the information available in public domain, Binayak has never been an active member of any political grouping ;unless there is credible evidence to the contrary ,it would be prudent to restrain one’s prejudices from surfacing.Of course the Maoists have a monstrous streak which has resulted in catastrophic tragedies but I am yet to convince myself that majority of the tribals are Maoists .Speaking on their behalf should not -repeat should not- be seen as an endorsement of Maoists positions ;that would be much too simplistic! Does anyone deny that the mining giants have a vested interest in procuring land rights and the sufferers would be tribals! Let us not create an ambience of injustice which would be a fertile ground for Maoist ideology-as was done more than 40 years ago resulting in Naxal menace. Let us learn from history. And must add another anecdote. About 35 years ago, a British colleague Dr.Sheila Cassidy decided to offer medical help in Chile where Pinochet’s goons were wreaking havoc.She was captured and brutally tortured leading to the British government breaking off relations with Chile. Pinochet always maintained that he was battling ‘communists’ and labelled Sheila ,a deeply religious churchgoer a ‘communist sympathizer’!The links with Chile were restored when Pinochet’s friend viz Maggie Thatcher assumed power. Those like myself who were active with Amnesty International (which incidentally was at the forefront opposing the Soviet Union)were blacklisted and denied visas to Chile-a letter that I still retain as a token of achievement .This ban remained until Pinochet was deposed. And the arguments were eeringly similar to the ones being put forward here ,the context of course being different.Pinochet had deposed an elected Allende while Chhatisgarh has an elected government.Sheila now is a very active medical missionary in Plymouth-hardly possible for a communist! Let us oppose human rights violations wherever they come from notwithstanding our personal preferences!

      • Tara Chand

        Is this the language we expect here apart from the fact that the information presented is patently false and comes from an unreliable source! By all means disagree with the points made here without delving into irrelevancies but if you do have to make a comment on the personal attributes of a person it is always prudent to get all the facts available. For anyone really interested ,the source in both the links cited viz David Copolov is presently facing a high level inquiry in Australia for plagiarism(google and discover for yourself) and his angst for the person you are maligning is common known. Perhaps you may also wish to follow this link: to learn the truth. All I can say is that if one were to be selective in his/her interpretation and acceptance of material on the net and only stress the points which suit our preformed notions ,we would lay ourselves open to misinferences over and over again!

      • Mahendra

        so much for language, we squeamish, prude cowards are a worthless bunch and these communists are able to threaten the security of the people and forces. Your ignorance about pucl is laughable and don’t try to lecture me on that. Has binayak sen ever conducted an independent inquiry into the atrocities maoists committed? Do you at least know the origins of naxalism in west bengal? there were no tribals no mines then. These mad dogs are able to acquire weapons and extort money, rule and command a huge population of tribals. what democratic rights tribals have in red corridor? genuine, sincere agitations might have helped tribals than this murderous gangs.

        • Sunil Kumar Srivastava

          Anyone who really believes that the police and the state are all paragons of virtue is probably living on another planet;or is a member of the police force himself! As a lawyer ,I had myself been involved in prosecuting Maoists for years-until I witnessed the truth in its totality. And yes I happen to know more about the origins of Maoism than with respect the gentleman who wrote this comment. I still oppose their methods with passion-none of them come to me to defend them- but I am equally passionate about the brutality of the state which I believe has to be made accountable. It is pathetically simple to label Dr.Sen as a Maoist-but I suspect the Medical Campaign for Human Rights people who are at the forefront in his support would strongly object to this nomenclature. The truth is that government of every persuation has been trying to shortchange the tribals and oblige the mining giants. I learned this to my dismay while working as a prosecutor.

          • Mahendra

            I knew you commies are everywhere, why did you work as a prosecutor if you are unhappy with the state? State terror, police brutality…..blah blah blah, govt has no business dealing with these dogs unless they take up guns and kill. police have no individual ideology or fighting mewosits over some ancestral property. Grow up.

          • Sunil Kumar Srivastava

            If this was an effort to cheapen the debate,you have not succeeded as to be provoked into stooping down to that level is beyond me.Besides the whole comment smacks of collossal ignorance-had you taken the trouble you would have known the name of the prosecutor who secured conviction for 5 Maoists in 2 years-so much for that ignorant label ‘commie’ that you use. If you are a policeman from that area your DGP would have known the most effective prosecutor for the Maoists in the days I was there. A piece of unsolicited advice-if you do not have relevant information, it would be best to keep your mouth shut! Once I learned that the state -and that includes governments of all persuation- was bent on trashing the Constitution,I could never in good conscience function as a prosecutor-and this is a matter of record. But foul mouthed arrogant police propagandists would not understand this basic fact!I really pity!

          • Mahendra

            hey dumbo i am an ordinary citizen, get some treatment for your paranoia. you didn’t answer the question,under which constitutional privilege these dogs took up arms and killing whoever they like? it’s stupid to expect police to be sitting ducks. i have seen these assholes brutally attacking 3-4 acre land holding poor farmers for not paying donations. have seen these mafia growing marijuana and marketing. have seen treasures when their dumps were dug out. this madness has denied a few generations the real prospects of betterment. you and your idiots are enemies of the country… sympathy no mercy no human rights drama …… total annihilation is the only solution.

          • Sunil Kumar Srivastava

            I do not think any further evidence of your cheapness was necessary but you have provided it! While the likes of you were busy foul mouthing and abusing because apparently that is all you are capable of,I was getting the Maoists prosecuted and convicted. And I doubt if you know the first thing about prosecution. For that very reason I am still on their black list unlike pathetic buffoons who can only abuse and do nothing and do not believe in the Constitution yet claim rights as a citizen. I can NEVER subscribe to police fabricating evidence as I believe that demeans all right thinking people-RIGHT THINKING people who swear by the Constitution! And I know more about Maoists that police propagandists!

          • Sunil Kumar Srivastava

            Further evidence of your firm commitment to the Constitution! I am not in a position to work out whether you are a bigoted redneck or a card carrying buffoon! If you are a believer in the sort of justice you propound then the Indian constitution has no place for it! You may well be better off in a country that permits that brand of justice-that shall never take place legally in India! And if the police cook up evidence which happens with regularity then they are just as guilty! But yes,that is beyond the comprehension of imbeciles and those who wallow in truculent imbecility!! And wonderfully elegant vocabulary you do have!

          • navin dhighe

            pompous pseudos like you when cornered and exposed in order to escape use strong words like foul mouthed police propagandists but that is the trait of all you bleeding hearts

          • Sunil Kumar Srivastava

            In fact a person who believes in state sponsored vigilante justice and resorts to vocabulary of the sort that the comment writers here have resorted to deserve a far stronger epithet than used by me specially when they claim to be Indian citizens and reject the very fundamentals of the Constitution! And what is more their supporters deserve no better!

  • ritwam28

    Thank God for doing this interview…Any independent voice for tribal & disenfranchise against the nexus of mainstream political party & industrialist is branded anti-nationals. Hats off to this couple.

  • Satyam Sharma

    Ha! After seeing this interview, I now FULLY agree that the police arrested the wrong person! The anti-national far-leftist loonie here is clearly Ilina Sen and definitely not her husband Binayak Sen, who seems to be just an apprentice to his wife! 🙂

    Jokes apart, I do have sympathy for Binayak Sen for the way he was treated, but this interview is totally one-sided. One normally expects Madhu Trehan to be somewhat adversarial (as she ALWAYS is, when interviewing guests from the intellectual right, from Arun Shourie to Francois Gautier) and ask some tough questions. But here, she has simply handed over the megaphone to Binayak and Ilina Sen to present their completely one-sided story and disparage the “system” (govt, people, police, judiciary, jail authorities, everybody who does not support them), without making them answer to any hard accusations (several of which do have substance) that have been leveled against them. It’s as if NL has simply got the Sens to jointly author a 20-minute-worth column on their website — I wouldn’t call this a “good interview” at all.

    Some more points:

    1. What was actually shocking was that Madhu was unaware of the well-known convict warder system (practiced all over the world). I expected someone in her position to know what it is, why it exists and how it functions. And sorry, because of Madhu’s ignorance, Ilina has been allowed to get away with a blatant falsehood here.

    Unlike what is mentioned in the interview, convict warders are those who have COMPLETED their prison terms (and therefore legally as well as morally, their past CANNOT be used to entertain any prejudices against them). Due to lack of opportunities and stigma in the outside world, they are often re-employed within the jails themselves as warders on a daily wage basis. Their duties are varied, from intelligence gathering (is a prison break plot afoot?) to maintaining discipline, and from security to representing the prisoners’ interests. Well actually, considering all the three lib-lefties here devote a major part of the interview sobbing about the rights of prisoners, so EVEN IF convict warders were those still serving their sentences, why wouldn’t they have some sympathy for them as well?

    2. Anybody with even a passing understanding of our legal system would know how the investigative police is separate from the jail authorities (and both of whom are obviously separate from the judiciary). This is exactly what gives rise to the difference between “police custody” and “judicial custody”, that refer to the (possibly extended, if the court so wishes) period of detention of the accused between arrest and conviction or grant of bail.

    It must also be remembered that even Raja and Kanimozhi (and several other 2G scam accused) had to spend 1+ years in jail between arrest and grant of bail. If Binayak’s sob story evokes so much sympathy, then why not some tears for Raja and Kanimozhi too? Anyway, the SC (again in the 2G scam case) has accepted that after an extended period of detention of the accused between arrest and commencement of trial (when the police wants to keep the accused in judicial custody, i.e. in jail, so that he/she may not interfere with ongoing investigations), bail should be the norm and not the exception. So bottomline: the legal system knows what is best for any case, and its best for people who don’t even have the basic knowledge to evaluate such matters to simply leave these things to the courts.

    3. Multiple months in solitary confinement (which, by the way, is not as if the prisoner is kept in some dark dungeon a la medieval times) is again normal. Especially if the under-trial (or convict) is incarcerated on serious charges of the kind that are made against the Sens.

    4. Ilina needs to stop dissing the judge (who, again, acted perfectly normally when he “reproduced the language of the chargesheet” in his judgment convicting Binayak) in random interviews, and instead take the matter to a higher court (which they have done) if she is dissatisfied with the justice of the lower court. Dissing the legal system (and the courts) just because a judgment goes against you is not only contempt against the legal system of the land, but a highly immature thing to do. For some reason lib-lefties do a lot of this — simply disparage the legal system and the courts just because some judgment or SIT report did not come out in alignment with their prejudices!

    5. I almost laughed out loud when Binayak lamented how their was overcrowding, poor healthcare, lack of cleanliness and “food was horrible” in our jails. Oh please, you are a convicted criminal, and you are in a JAIL and NOT a five-star hotel. Here in India, even the common law-abiding citizen often lives in destitution (“food is horrible” and “medical facilities are poor” in our “overcrowded” and “unclean” slums too, remember?), and here we have these people lamenting the “quality of life” in our prisons!

    6. Somebody please enrol Ilina in an adult re-education programme. (I am willing to bear the costs.) Her intellectual ignorance (shockingly mixed with intellectual arrogance to produce a deadly cocktail) is a sight to behold.

    Why the hell would Ilina bring the issue of crimes against women (Justice Verma report) in a *political* discussion about India? Do crimes against women happen ONLY in India? Don’t nationalists care about crimes against women as well? Is the occurrence of crimes against women in some country (on a scale that is “normal” w.r.t. other countries) a legitimate reason to wage war against the State and its Constitution? These leftists are absolutely crazy!

    What the hell does Ilina mean that only the “liberals” (whoever they are) of India believe in the “values of the constitution”, or gender equality, or social justice? Do the “conservatives” (whoever they are) NOT believe in the values of the constitution, or gender equality, or social justice? Who is a “liberal” and who is a “conservative” in the first place? And who gave Ilina the right to call herself a “liberal”? According to me, left-libs are NOT real or true liberals. They are PSEUDO-liberals. They have absolutely NO clue about individualism and libertarianism, and no wonder ALL leftist systems (communism and its flavours like Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism, etc) lead to the crushing of individual liberties, and the establishment of an all-powerful and fascist super-State.

    What the hell does Ilina mean when she says that “on the one hand, the right is digging its heels, and on the other hand, ‘us progressives and liberals’ are making the case for equality”? This statement is an absolute shocker in multiple ways and on multiple levels. The reality is that the RIGHT in India is the one which is really progressive and liberal, whereas the left is regressive and illiberal. It is the RIGHT in India that is actually fighting for equality for both genders or all communities (without appeasement and/or special treatment for anybody) whereas the left mostly panders to dynastyism, nepotism, and just wants to impose its intellectual hegemony. The LEFT is itself the biggest KHAP of India.

    Look at her answer: “What Mao did in China in 1947 (evidently refering to the Long March, and the bloody civil war and violent leftist revolution) is not possible to replicate now in India”. This is almost a lament, that betrays her true loyalties. So she would LIKE Maoism to come to India (never mind that it DESTROYED China culturally, socially and economically, as also instituted an oppressive undemocratic unfree state built upon genocides)

    Finally, anybody who has real sympathy for the adivasis (especially somebody like Ilina who claims to have lived in Chhattisgarh for three decades), will actually have overt hatred for the Maoists, who have been maintaining an oppressive reign of violence, abuse and terror over the poor adivasis, in their purely selfish motive to seize political power through violent means. How can somebody claim to be a friend of the adivasis, and yet want to keep them in a permanent state of underdevelopment? Industrialization and development are GOOD for the people, guys, I thought this debate was over in the 1700s, and yet here in India we have regressive leftist buffoons who still want to keep tribals deprived from the fruits of human development!

    • pratul

      sir jee , wat an epic comments , so i will put ur article on my FB page ? 🙂

      • Satyam Sharma

        Thanks, please do feel free to spread or share my comment.

  • prakash

    Such a goody goody.dripping with honey interview!! Do your homework properly..Miz about interviewing Yasin Malik in such a deferential manner!!

  • Admirer

    BAD BAD Madhu trehan … u behave like that rNDTV now