Gandhian with a Stethoscope

Published: December 31, 2010 - 15:12 Updated: December 31, 2010 - 15:14

No sophistry, no jugglery in figures can explain away the evidence that the skeletons in many villages present to the naked eye. I have no doubt whatsoever that both England and the town dwellers of India will have to answer, if there is a God above, for this crime against humanity, which is perhaps unequaled in history. The law itself in this country has been used to serve the foreign exploiter. My unbiased examination of the Punjab Martial Law cases has led me to believe that 95 per cent of the convictions were wholly bad. My experience of political cases in India leads me to the conclusion that in nine out of every ten the condemned men were totally innocent. Their crime consisted in the love of their country. In 99 cases out of 100, justice has been denied to Indians as against Europeans in the courts of India. This is not an exaggerated picture. It is the experience of almost every Indian who has had anything to do with such cases. In my opinion the administration of the law is thus prostituted consciously or unconsciously for the benefit of the exploiter...

In my humble opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good...

The only course open to you, the judge, is either to resign your post, and thus dissociate yourself from evil if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is an evil and that in reality I am innocent, or to inflict upon me the severest penalty if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country and that my activity is therefore injurious to the public weal.

On conviction for sedition: A selection from Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's closing statement to the judge on March 23, 1922
Text from pp. 87-88 in LAW, A Treasury of Art and Literature, edited by Sara Robbins, published by Beaux Arts Editions,1990. Courtesy

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison. He was then termed a terrorist by the racist white empire, including western powers. Many of his comrades, most of them communists, spent many more years. Tortured and exiled. Che was murdered in Bolivia by the CIA. Fidel Castro was jailed and branded untouchable. Cuba is still under an American trade embargo. Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, hanged by the British. Young Khudiram Bose, hanged. Two of the Chittagong rebels, hanged: Surya Sen and Tarakeswar Dastidar. Kalpana Dutt condemned as terrorist. Chandrashekhar Azad killed himself in an armed encounter with the police. Or, was he killed? Nehru spent many more years in jail than Gandhi and other Congress leaders. Hundreds of Indian revolutionaries were tortured and brutalised in the kala pani of Andaman's hell-holes. Great Spanish poet and dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca murdered by the Franco dictatorship. Genius scholar Christopher Caudwell killed in Spanish Civil War, plus hundreds of anti-fascist intellectuals. Salvador Allende, elected Chilean leader, killed by the CIA. His friend, poet Pablo Neruda, died soon after, in angst. Dissident writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed in Nigeria. He was fighting for the rights of the poorest against the government and a multinational oil company. Azad and Hemchandra Pandey, killed by subterfuge, clearly in a fake encounter, even as Azad carried messages of talks/ceasefire. Charu Majumdar killed in Calcutta police custody. One generation of Bengal's young wiped out, tortured, jailed. Chavez, Morales, Lula, all branded Leftists. Lula's inheritor, Dilma Rousseff, condemned as Leftist Guerrilla Terrorist, is the new elected president of Brazil. Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai, along with thousands of Nepali Maoists, branded terrorists. Aurobindo condemned as terrorist. Orhan Pamuk hounded for reminding Turkey of the Armenian holocaust. Sedition case against Arundhati Roy. Chinese Nobel prize winner Liu Xiaobo jailed for writing a freedom charter. His wife disappears. Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panai in prison for defending pro-democracy protestors.

Dr Binayak Sen. Life imprisonment. Sedition. No evidence. Crime: Four decades of relentless health work for the poorest in the most remote zones of India. And non-violent, peaceful protest against human rights violations. Gandhian with a stethoscope. 

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