March 29, 2016
In India, a medical doctor in Chhattisgarh State was arrested on March 16th, and released on bail ten days later. Dr. Saibal Jana, the chief physician of Shaheed Hospital at Dalli Rajhara, was picked up late at night by Chhattisgarh police. He was arrested for “absconding” in a 24-year-old court case related to the police firing on agitated workers of the Bhilai Industrial Area on 1 July, 1992. Dr. Jana was on that day among the team of doctors providing medical assistance to trade union activists of the Chhattisgarh Liberation Front who were injured.
Together with Dr. Binayak Sen and others Dr. Jana founded Shaheed Hospital in 1981, which has since been known for never returning a poor patient. Dr. Saibal Jana has dedicated his life to providing medical services to the labouring poor and marginalized communities for around three decades.
According to local activists, his arrest was politically motivated. Some say that the doctor has been punished because of his long-time association with Dr. Binayak Sen. In 2010, Dr. Sen was was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for abetting and aiding Naxalites (communist guerilla groups), after which he filed an appeal before the Chhattisgarh High Court (the case is still pending). Others claim that a powerful pharmaceutical lobby was behind the arrest “as Dr. Jana always prescribes cheap medicines”.