South Asia

Wife of Binayak Sen may seek asylum outside India

Dr Binayak Sen is brought to a court in the Indian city of Raipur on 24 December 2010
Image caption Dr Sen was found guilty of carrying messages and setting up bank accounts for Maoist rebels

The wife of a leading Indian human rights activist who has been jailed for helping Maoist rebels has said she may seek political asylum.

Ilina Sen, wife of Dr Binayak Sen, told reporters that she and her family were "not feeling safe in India" after her husband's conviction.

Last month Dr Sen was found guilty of carrying messages and setting up bank accounts for the rebels.

Activists say the evidence against Dr Sen was "manufactured".

Human rights group Amnesty International has said his trial violated international standards.

US author Professor Noam Chomsky, Indian historian Prof Romila Thapar and dozens of well-known Indian academics have said in a statement that are "deeply shocked by the judgment of a Chhattisgarh [central Indian state] court holding Dr Sen to be guilty of sedition, and sentencing him to life imprisonment".


Dr Sen's wife said on Monday that the "only recourse left for me is to go to some embassy of a liberal, democratic country and ask for political asylum".

Mrs Sen, who is a social worker and runs an NGO, told the BBC that the police were "hounding" her in Chhattisgarh state, where Dr Sen worked with the poor.

"We are constantly followed by police, receive anonymous mails, threatening calls, and our phones are tapped," she said.

She said she moved to the western state of Maharashtra recently to escape the harassment.

"Even my landlord in Maharashtra was called up by police and made aware of my antecedents," Mrs Sen said.

Chhattisgarh government officials branded the allegations a "publicity stunt".

Mrs Sen said her husband's trial was a "sham... the allegations against him are vague and even a child can make out there is not an iota of truth in it".

He was arrested in Bilaspur town in May 2007 for alleged links to Maoist leader Narayan Sanyal, whom he used to visit in jail.

In December, a court in Chhattisgarh found Dr Sen and three others guilty of treason and sedition.

Dr Sen, a trained paediatrician, says he does not support the Maoists.

He ran a weekly clinic for tribal people and was piloting a community-based health programme.

Dr Sen won a prestigious Jonathan Mann human rights award for his services to poor and tribal communities.

He helped cut the infant mortality rate in the state and deaths from diarrhoea and dehydration, say local doctors.

Dr Sen has been outspoken about government support for the controversial Salwa Judum civilian militia to tackle Maoists in Chhattisgarh.

He has also expressed concern over rising inequality in India despite the economic boom.

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