Shoma Sen spends birthday in jail for third consecutive year

By Sonam Saigal / The Hindu

Prof. Shoma Sen, former head of department, English, at the Nagpur University, and one of the accused in the Elgaar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon cases, turned 63 on Saturday. She has been lodged in Byculla jail in Mumbai since February this year, when the case was transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Ms. Sen was in Yerwada jail in Pune since her arrest on June 6, 2018, and this was her third birthday in jail.

Ms. Sen has been a part of Stree Chetna at Nagpur that deals with issues such as violence against women and dowry deaths. She has also been associated with the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights.

Her daughter Koel Sen, who is with her father at Nagpur, told The Hindu , “Due to COVID-19, everyone is with their families and it’s really sad that we are not together. For her, being in confinement is like a double lockdown.”

Ms. Sen’s first bail application was rejected on November 2, 2018, on grounds that there was material linking her involvement in alleged unlawful activities inimical to the country’s security.

On March 31 this year, after the nationwide lockdown was imposed, Ms. Sen’s plea for interim medical bail, as a precaution against COVID-19, was rejected by the special NIA judge D.E. Kothalikar.

Her application said she suffered from multiple ailments including osteoarthritis, glaucoma and high blood pressure which could make her vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

On July 26, the same court again rejected her interim medical bail on grounds of age and ailments. The court said, “that she is suffering from “some disease” cannot be a ground for her release.”

Soon after her arrest in 2018, the Joint Commissioner of Police (Pune), Ravindra Kadam, had in response to a question from The Hindu said, “I won’t elaborate about the material I have against Dr. Sen. I won’t say anything about the e-mails that I have, but we have definite evidence against her and her involvement in Maoist activities and that she supports Elgaar Parishad. I also have material to prove that she supports a banned organisation.”

Ms. Sen is one of the 12 people accused of delivering inflammatory speeches at the Elgaar Parishad conclave at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial the next day.

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