Well we didnt have to look far on who is batting for the Maoists when this story from Tehelka surfaced in conversations, courtesy fellow bloggers on the Indian National Interest.

The story is about Dr. Binayak Sen from Raipur Chattisgarh who has been languishing in jails since May 2007 after being repeatedly denied bail from courts all the way up to the Supreme Court on charges of aiding Maoist Terrorists.

While the ethics of the extended detention are open debate the legality it must be assumed is on sound grounds with even the Supreme Court denying bail as recently as Dec 2007.

This post is not about Binayak Sen or the ethics of his detention, will leave that subject to fellow bloggers to address. This post is about Tehelka’s Half Truths in the story on Binayak Sen which goes to expose how Tehelka is one of many above the ground close communist outfits that have been batting for the Maoists.

The story of Binayak Sen hinges on the arrest of one Narayan Sanyal who also goes by the name Prasad and Bijoy. For those like this blogger who dont know who Narayan Sanyal is there is a long history of some infame. This story that appeared in The Hindu on the eve of his arrest in Bhadrachalam by Andhra Police covers some of the infamy.

The 68-year-old naxalite leader was one of the members of the CPI (Maoist) Polit Bureau and its central committee and chief of its central-eastern regional bureau monitoring the political affairs in Orissa and Chhattisgarh.

He was the schemer of the PW attack on former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu at Alipiri in Tirupati in October 2003 and the Jehananabad jail break that resulted in liberation of 340 prisoners, including several Maoist activists, in November 2005

He was involved in as many as 21 serious cases of Maoist-sponsored violence in different eastern States, including the attack on the Police Superintendent’s convoy in Bastar in January 2005. He was also involved in the attack on the police headqarters in Korraput in Orissa in February 2004.

Thats not all Sanyal’s antecedents go back to when it all started.

Sanyal was an ideologue of the party and one of the leaders closely associated with the Naxalbari movement, had worked under Charu Majumdar and was instrumental in spreading the party in different states. He joined the party while working as a bank employee in Siliguri in West Bengal in 1966. He was in jail for five years after his arrest at Ranchi in 1972. He joined the underground cadres of the party after coming out on bail in 1977.

So here you have the most prominent figure in the Maoist Terrorist movement. The Government’s case against Binayak Sen rests on links with Sanyal.

So coming back to the Tehelka story, the usual suspects Shoma Choudhary and co. start the piece with typical Tehelka style shock and awe to overwhelm you with guilt laced with outrage against the State. To do that they paint a humanist picture of Binayak Sen going to great lengths about his Medical accomplishments. But then they conveniently forget to chronicle the extensive activism of Binayak Sen as a full time National Executive member of the PUCL, another above the ground front packed with known apologists for the Maoists and a few closet communists. In fact the first reference to Binayak Sen’s PUCL role occurs a full 10 paragraphs after we have been overwhelmed with details on the noble person he is. That too was a passing reference with no details on who Binayak Sen batted for as PUCL activist.

Be that as it may, the Tehelka story then goes on to chronicle how Sanyal is arrested in January of 2006 and how innocently he is introduced to Binayak Sen by Sanyal’s brother many months later.

In May 2006, Sanyal’s elder brother, Radhamadhab, who lived in Kol kata, wrote a letter to Binayak Sen, as the general secretary of PUCL (People’s Union for Civil Liberties), copied to other human rights organisations, asking for help in getting Sanyal a lawyer, as well as medical attention. As one of the most eminent human rights activists in the region, Binayak intervened.

Here is the problem with the Tehelka story. If Binayak Sen was first informed of Sanyal’s plight only in May on the need for medical attention how is it that Binayak Sen had this press release put out via the PUCL with his name and his e-mail address in December of 2005 alleging that Sanyal had disappeared from Raipur in Chattisgarh where he was for medical attention.

The Chhattissgarh PUCL has received today a letter from the Secretary, Chhattisgarh State Committee, CPI (Maoist).The letter says that a senior leader and member of the central committee of the CPI (Maoist) Mr. Bijoy alias Prasad who had come to Raipur for treatment ,has suddenly disappeared on the evening of 28.12.05.There is a strong possibility that he has been apprehended by the police and put under arrest 

The rest of the Tehelka story goes on to further debate the ethics of the case including Binayak’s activisim against Salwa Judum.

There is no mention ever of the press release by Binayak or any explanation given on why Sanyal’s brother would write a letter to Binayak in May of 2006 asking for medical and legal help when Binayak was already in the know on both the medical and legal issues in the days ahead of Sanyal’s arrest.

Offstumped Bottomline: As always Tehelka’s economy with truth is meant to shock and awe one into an outpouring of guilt while losing sight of facts.

By conveniently ignoring the press release put out by Binayak Sen on Narayan Sanyal days before his actual arrest Tehelka has attempted to put a smokescreen on Binayak Sen’s Maoist links.

By conveniently chronicling the sequence of events from May 2007 Tehelka has painted an innocent picture that brushes over tough questions. 


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