Friday, 22 May 2009

Raipur Satyagraha

I have recently returned after participating in my first Satyagraha, a civil resistance and a protest, an effort to 'invite truth', or even create it. I was part of a group protesting the two year incarceration of Dr. Binayak Sen in Raipur in a sham case implicating him in Maoist activities. The state's key witness has turned 'hostile', denying that Dr. Sen could have smuggled Maoist letters from the prison, which is the primary charge against him. Dr. Sen is in urgent need of medical attention and is still awaiting bail to obtain treatment of choice.

Dr. Binayak Sen is one person, of the probably thousands languishing in Indian jails without access to due judicial process entitled to them - a safety blanket to protect their civil liberties and human rights. Our 'Satyagarh' in Chattisgarh was a cry, a yell, a scream in many hundred voices, not only for justice in Dr. Sen's case, but all those others, wrongfully detained, many for substantially longer, under much more hostile and severe circumstances. It was a call, loud and clear, that we, the ordinary people of India, shall not let this be, that 'we shall not surrender!' We take responsibility for our bad governance, our rotten judiciary, our corrupt officials, mainly our own apathy in face of a hundred thousand wrongs that surround us, suffocate us, destroy us, and the very concept of a 'we' and 'us'.

There was no apathy in the Raipur Satyagraha. Minstrels sang, feet danced, voices of poets rang out with hopes for humanity and tears of their nightmares. There was no apathy when we marched under the blazing summer sun, young, old, women, children, all, with voices hoarse to wake the world. Fists clenched, held high, to shatter through the deceit, the lies! Protest calls of power, passion, in a battle cry to end wrong doings, not the wrong doers. We were strongly, forcefully, inviting truth, to come amongst us all, to end suffering, of all those suffering. For, can inflicting any pain be right? can any wrong doing be justified? are there any laws, principles, doctrines, greater than the sovereign right of all men to be free, to live, according to the current of their own inner voice? And, should we not protest, since our heart cries in pain? in shame? for all those suffering - wrongfully, willfully incurred at the hands of our own elected officials and appointed police force, who are meant to safeguard individual rights and thereby protect the existence of our nationhood?

Democracy fails without civil liberty. When human voice is silenced, questioning clamped, dissenters eliminated, then democracy itself becomes a sham. This is the state of affairs in Chattisgarh.We were just a tiny team of brave hearts in a war zone 'inviting truth'.


  1. Hi Arati,

    This is a lovely write-up. It's great that you went for the satyagraha. There has been no coverage about it in the press at all. Looks like the mainstream media has forgotten Dr Binayak Sen. More strength to him and all you guys...


  2. Thanks Uma! Need more people like you to sit up and support.