Binayak Sen graduated from one of India's elite institutions, the Christian Medical College, Vellore, and chose to practise amongst the tribals of Chhattisgarh. Years of dedicated work led him to believe that sustainable health care cannot be achieved in the absence of human rights; and when the controversial Salwa Judum, the vigilante force, perceived by some as state-backed terror, was created by the government to counter the Naxalite movement, Binayak was amongst the first to voice his concern. Binayak's outspokenness led to his arrest on May 14, 2007 on the alleged charges of being a "fake" doctor and for supporting the Naxalite movement. He was denied bail on the grounds that he was a threat to state security and even subject to a spell of solitary confinement, a treatment reserved for dangerous criminals.
Ironically, while in jail he was bestowed the prestigious 2008 Jonathan Mann award by the Global Health Council, an annual award conferred on a practitioner of health and human rights. When he was denied permission to travel to Washington to receive the award, no less than 22 Nobel Laureates wrote to the Indian President and Prime Minister expressing grave concern that Binayak Sen was "being incarcerated solely for peacefully exercising his fundamental rights".
There was widespread public and international protest against his arrest and more than two years after his arrest Binayak Sen was released on bail on May 25, 2009.