Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi are Koya tribals from Chhattisgarh. 

 

ImageIn September 2011, police alleged both Soni and Linga to be conduit for extortion money being paid by Essar Group to Naxalites/Maoists. Linga was arrested on September 9, 2011 while Soni was arrested on October 4. 

Both Linga and Soni were tortured in custody. Soni was sexually assaulted and stones were inserted into her private parts. 

Out on bail, they tell their story. 

 

 

Soni Sori Released

 

Soni Sori urges activists and groups to continue their fight for justice for people like her, who continue to languish in jails.

After their release from the Jagdalpur jail, Soni Sori and Linga Kodopi went to the Ma Danteshwari Temple and then onto their villages Palnar and Sameli respectively.

A Big thank you from SONI SORI on thousands of post cards she has received , and she says-

Whenever I am Heartbroken I take out each post Card and read it. They give me strength and empower me to Fight

sonisori_postcard

Please continue to send her postcards,

at the following address

sonicard

Date: 11.4.2013

To:

Dr. Raman Singh

Chief Minister

Mantralaya, D.K.S. Bhavan,

Raipur, Chhattisgarh 492001

Subject: Please stop continued harassment of Soni Sori through “psychiatric evaluAtion”

Honourable Chief Minister Raman Singh,

We, the undersigned, are shocked to learn from Soni Sori’s lawyers that she is being

subjected to a psychiatric evaluation by the Chhattisgarh government in Central Jail,

Jagdalpur. This is a devious attempt to declare her mentally unsound and create doubts

about the veracity of her complaints of sexual torture in police custody and subsequent

harassment in jail. We strongly protest this move by the Chhattisgarh government.

As you may remember, teams from both the National Human Rights Commission and the

National Commission of Women had visited Raipur Central Jail in November and

December 2012, following complaints of ill-treatment of Soni Sori and other women

prisoners.

Following this visit, the NHRC has confirmed that “Soni Sori has on several occasions

been singled out for harsh and humiliating ill-treatment” and has been subjected to

“traumatic ordeals and odious practices” while in Central Jail, Raipur. While the official

report of the NCW visit is still pending, the observation of the visiting NCW member, Ms

Shamina Shafiq, that Soni Sori needed “psychological counselling” in order to cope with

her traumatic experience of sexual abuse in police custody, was extensively covered in

the media. However, Ms Annie Raja of NFIW, who was also part of the NCW team

visiting the Raipur jail, had rebutted this observation and clarified that “Soni Sori had

been very articulate in her meeting with the NCW, and presented her case sharply and

precisely. More than counselling, Soni Sori needs justice.”

It appears that your government has taken the casual remark made by Ms Shamina

Shafiq, stripped of all context, and used it as a basis to order the jail authorities to

administer a psychiatric evaluation of Soni Sori. In a meeting with women’s rights

activists in March 2013, Ms. Shafiq expressed her outrage that her sympathetic remark

regarding Soni Sori was being turned on its head by your government to Soni Sori’s

detriment.

It needs to be recalled that following her custodial torture in October 2011, Soni Sori was

denied proper medical examination and treatment in Chhattisgarh. The medical

authorities in Raipur, instead of investigating Soni Sori’s injuries due to sexual torture,

labelled her a malingerer (a person feigning illness), entirely dismissing her extensive

injuries. It was only when Soni Sori was taken to Kolkata under the orders of the

Supreme Court that stones thrust into her private parts came to light. Later on, Soni’s

entreatments for medical attention fell on deaf ears in Raipur jail, as she continued to

suffer from medical complications arising from her sexual torture. It took another order

of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to bring Soni to AIIMS in Delhi, where she was finally

given adequate medical treatment and nursed back to health.

In view of the sheer neglect and ill treatment of Soni Sori on earlier occasions, this

“psychiatric evaluation” based upon a third person’s remarks is not indicative of any

sudden concern for Soni Sori’s welfare and mental health, but of malafide intentions of

the government. We are well aware that your government has still not taken cognizance

of the complaint of sexual torture that Soni made against the then SP of Dantewada,

Ankit Garg, a year and a half ago, and has consistently ignored her complaints of

harassment by jail authorities. The colossal indifference of your government to the

grave issue of her complaints of custodial sexual violence has gone to the extent of

recommending Garg for a President’s Gallantry Award In January 2012. Hence, this

sudden and prompt concern for Soni’s mental well-being seems rather disingenuous and

insincere.

Indeed, this “psychiatric evaluation” appears to be a sinister ploy by the Chhattisgarh

government to discredit Soni’s serious and genuine complaints against the police and jail

authorities for her sexual torture (confirmed by doctors of NRS Hospital, Kolkata) and

harassment and denial of human rights of prisoners in Raipur jails (verified by NHRC).

Apart from attacking Soni Sori’s credibility as a reliable witness, such a psychiatric

evaluation can also serve as a basis for locking her away in a mental health institution for

an indefinite period of time and avoid taking action against the police officials involved

in her torture.

We demand that the Chhattisgarh government immediately quash further proceedings in

this “psychiatric evaluation” and instead take sincere and honest steps to redress Ms.

Soni’s genuine greivances of sexual torture and ill-treatment.

We wish to re-iterate what

 

Ms Annie Raja has already stated – what Soni Sori needs is respect, dignity and

 

justice, and not a psychiatric evaluation for demanding her rights.

 

Sincerely,

All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA)

All India Progressive Women’s Assocation (AIPWA)

Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault

Jagori

National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW)

Saheli

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)

sonidna

Women Groups Decry Chhattisgarh Government’s Attempt and malafide Intentions to Make Soni Sori Undergo “Psychiatric Evaluation”

National Commission of Women (NCW) and Chhattisgarh Government need to take responsibility for the current situation

 

11.4.2013, New Delhi

 

Several women’s groups today slammed the Chhattisgarh government for its continuing

harassment of the adivasi teacher, Soni Sori, imprisoned in its jails for the past 19 months

since October 2011. Soni Sori, who complained of brutal sexual torture at the hands of

Chhattisgarh police (later confirmed by an independent medical examination by doctors

in Kolkata), is now being subjected to a psychiatric examination by the government in

Jagdalpur Central Jail where she is currently lodged.

In December 2012, an NCW team conducted a jail visit to Raipur Central Jail and met

her in custody. While the NCW report of the visit is still pending, a stray remark made by

the NCW member, Ms. Shamina Shafiq, that Soni Sori needed psychological counselling

to cope with her traumatic experiences in police custody seems to have provided the

Chhattisgarh government the pretext to carry out a full-fledged psychiatric evaluation on

her, with the potential of declaring her mentally unsound and incompetent.

Women’s rights’ activists in the Capital condemned this move by the state government.

Declaring her “mentally unsound” is a disturbing attempt to silence Soni’s voice and cast

doubts on her complaints of sexual torture and ill treatment in jail.

An open letter to the Chief Minister Raman Singh was released today by concerned

women’s organisations demanding that further proceedings in the “psychiatric

evaluation” be immediately quashed. Calling this “a sinister ploy” by the Chhattisgarh

government to discredit Soni’s serious and genuine complaints against the police and jail

authorities for her sexual torture and harassment in Raipur jail, the letter expressed fears

that such an evaluation would be used to attack her credibility as a reliable witness. It

could also serve as a basis for locking her away in a mental health institution for an

indefinite period of time and avoid taking action against the police officials involved in

her torture. This comes at a crucial time when Soni is being acquitted in the various cases

foisted on her; so far, charges in four of the eight cases have been dropped against her.

Ms. Annie Raja, General Secretary of National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW),

who was also part of the NCW team visiting the jail, pointed out that the particular

remark by Ms. Shafiq was not an opinion shared by the entire team and hence does not

have the legitimacy of a formal observation made by the team. Ms. Raja clarified that she

did not think that Soni Sori needed psychological counselling and in the meeting with the

NCW team, she came across as an articulate and aware woman who presented her case

lucidly and sharply. “What Soni needs is justice, not psychological counselling,” Ms.

Raja reiterated.

It was pointed out that after Soni Sori was sexually tortured in police custody in October

2011, the medical authorities in Raipur had dismissed her extensive injuries and labelled

her a malingerer (a person feigning illness). It was only when she was taken to Kolkata

for an independent medical examination under the orders of the Supreme Court that

stones thrust into her private parts during her torture came to light. Following this

investigation, Soni was denied medical attention in Raipur jail, as she continued to suffer

from medical complications arising from her sexual torture. It took another order of the

Supreme Court to bring her to AIIMS, Delhi, where she was finally given adequate

medical treatment and nursed back to health.

“In view of the sheer neglect and ill treatment of Soni Sori on earlier occasions, this

‘psychiatric evaluation’ based upon a third person’s remarks is not indicative of any

sudden concern for her welfare and mental health, but of

malafide intentions of the

government,” reads the open letter to Raman Singh. Noting that the state government has

still not taken cognizance of Soni’s complaint of sexual torture against the then SP of

Dantewada, Ankit Garg, a year and a half ago, the letter called “this sudden and prompt

concern for Soni’s mental well-being” a little disingenuous. The letter also observed that

the visit by the NHRC team to the Raipur jail in November 2012 had indeed confirmed

that “Soni Sori has on several occasions been singled out for harsh and humiliating illtreatment”

and has been subjected to “traumatic ordeals and odious practices” in jail.

Picking up the “suitable” aspect of NCW’s comments and ignoring the findings of the

NHRC makes it clear that Soni’s torture and the attempts to break her down had the

sanction of the highest state authorities.

Women’s groups also denounced the inordinate delay of more than 4 months by the

NCW for making public their findings of the Raipur jail visit. It should be recalled that

the NCW visit to the Raipur Jail was made only at the insistence of various women’s

groups that had, in October 2012, stormed the NCW office in frustration at the

Commission’s inaction in the Soni Sori case. Post the Raipur jail visit, in a meeting with

representatives of women’s groups in March 2013, the NCW member, Ms. Shamina

Shafiq, expressed her dismay at the turn of events with the Chhattisgarh government, and

said that she would immediately take up the matter with the jail authorities in Jagdalpur.

However, more than two weeks later, women’s groups have no information about the

progress on the case. Activists demanded to know the reason for this delay.

Instead of helping Soni Sori and other jail inmates get justice, this visit seems to have

only backfired and created more problems. The organisations demanded to know when

the NCW will step in to stop further victimisation of Soni and release their report that

will clarify the context in which the NCW’s observations were made.

Signed by:

 

All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA); All India Progressive Women’s

 

Association (AIPWA); Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault; Jagori; National

 

Federation of Indian Women (NFIW); Saheli; Women Against Sexual Violence and State

 

Repression (WSS).

 

sonidna

DNA, March 8, 2013

Soni Sori, a young adivasi teacher from Chhattisgarh, has been in police custody since October 2011. She was arrested in Delhi on October 4, 2011 and charged with being a conduit between the Essar Group and Maoists. She was taken to the Dantewada police station, where she was allegedly raped and tortured with stones inserted into her vagina and rectum.

Suppressing the voice
Sori has been outspoken while questioning human rights violations by police and security forces in Chhattisgarh. “The Chhattisgarh government wants adivasis to stop organising, agitating or protesting abuse of human rights,” Himanshu Kumar, member of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said.
“Once labelled Maoists, terrorists or something equally convenient the system finds it easy to go after them,” says Kamayani  Bali Mahabal

Roll of shame

Dantewada SP Ankit Garg who Soni Sori has named as responsible for the sexual torture was presented the President’s gallantry award this Republic Day. He says the allegations made against him are all false. “Her Maoist mentors in Delhi and Mumbai are making her say all this… They are using her to gain mileage.”

Fight for her


Protest against sexual crimes has been on the rise, but Soni Sori’s story does not find any place inmedia and  public discussion on legislation against sexual violence. “This is what we’ll address with the ‘One Billion Rising For Soni Sori’ today,” says  human rights activist Kamayani  Bali Mahabal.

 

Ashutosh Bhardwaj : NewdelhiThu Dec 26 2013

Maoist exile
Soni Sori with nephew Lingaram Kodapi in Delhi. IE

Away from their forested home in Dantewada, two alleged Maoists are living in exile in a crowded lane in Delhi. Barred from entering their “motherland” Chhattisgarh, tribal teacher  and her nephew Lingaram Kodapi, both accused in the Essar-Maoists payoffs case, spend their days meeting activists, students and readingMarx among other things.

“If you say Lal Salaam or use the word Marx in , you will be termed aNaxal and arrested immediately. In Delhi many people say Lal Salaam,” says Sori, 37.

“I am surprised that Marx is taught in colleges here. Arrest all these students,” adds Kodapi, 25.

In Chhattisgarh, Marx is considered to constitute Maoist literature — sufficient evidence for arrest under the stringent Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.

After spending over two years in , the duo were released after being granted interim  by the Supreme Court last month. But they were prohibited from entering Chhattisgarh.

“My tragedy is not the jail term. I could have lived with that. Tribals in my region (Bastar) are usually put in jail for no reason. The bigger tragedy is that I lost my motherland. Puri duniya men badnaam ho gayi main (I have been dishonoured in the whole world),” says Sori.

Her two daughters and a son live with her brother in Dantewada. “I cannot go back to my children. Their childhood has been destroyed,” she adds. After being released on bail, Sori was given little time to even meet her children, as she and Kodapi had to leave Chhattisgarh within 24 hours. They now live in the office of their lawyer,Colin Gonsalves. Always accompanied by a guard, they have to report to the nearest police station every week.

“Policemen in Delhi don’t know our case, they taunt us saying that we are notorious Naxals. They say `tumhen chhorna nahi chahiye tha. Supreme Court ne tum par meharbani kar di (you should not have been released. The Supreme Court did you a favour),” says Kodapi.

“It’s not bail. We are still living in a jail,” adds Sori.

These days, Kodapi is watching Steven Soderbergh’s Che, a gift from a British friend. He reads English books and quotes Nelson Mandela.

“The government of India has not done justice to tribals. We never asked for anything. We only want liberation, not reservations. My Constitution gives me the right to equality,” he says.

The duo have been acquitted in all other cases except the Essar-Maoists payoff case. Sori was in jail when her mother died last year. Her husband and co-accused Anil Futane reportedly succumbed to injuries he sustained in jail days after he was acquitted in August this year.

“They granted bail to the Essar general manager and B K Lala (Essar’s contractor), but denied it to us. If the high court had given me bail, I could have gone back to live in my village, but now I have been evicted, without a home,” says Sori.

Essar is alleged to have paid “protection money” to Maoists, and Sori and Kodapi are alleged to have acted as conduits.

Kodapi blames both the security forces and the Maoists. He says while the former wanted him to become a special police officer (SPO), the Maoists also wanted him to join their ranks. He refused both offers, he says.

“Maoists force tribal youths to join them. Several years ago, Badru (a Maoist commander) called me and asked me to fight against the police. I refused. Now, Badru is the police’s man,” he says.

He says the trial has steeled his resolve and “faith in the Constitution and non-violence”. “They have pitted me against myself. When they arrested me, I asked them to kill me, or else I will defeat them. Even if you keep me in jail for 20 years, I will come out and defeat you,” he says.

Read more here- http://m.indianexpress.com/news/this-isn-t-bail-we-are-still-living-in–jail-says-soni-sori–exiled–in-delhi/1211809/

 

SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu , may 30, 2013

An activist protest demanding release of Soni Sori. She got a bail in one of hte eight cases on Thursday by a Chhattisgarh court. File photo
The HinduAn activist protest demanding release of Soni Sori. She got a bail in one of hte eight cases on Thursday by a Chhattisgarh court. File photo

There are close to 2,000 cases in which tribal people have been languishing in jail since two to seven years. Tribal schoolteacher Soni Sori has been granted bail by a court in one of the eight cases filed against her.

Tribal schoolteacher Soni Sori has been granted bail by a court in south Chhattisgarh in one of the eight cases filed against her.

She has already been acquitted in six cases, her lawyer K.K. Dubey told The Hindu.

A charge sheet was filed against Ms. Sori and others in December 2010 at the Bacheli court for allegedly torching vehicles in Nerli, near Dantewada.

Recently, she was awarded bail in the case.

“She could not be acquitted like in other cases as the witnesses did not appear,” said Mr. Dubey.

Earlier this month, Ms. Sori and her relative, activist-journalist Lingaram Kodopi, were acquitted in the Avdesh Gautam case.

They were accused of planning and executing an attack on a local Congress leader and contractor Avdesh Gautam in which two persons were killed. Thirteen other co-accused, including Congress leader Vijay Sodi, CPI leader Lala Ram Kunjam and a panchayat member of Dantewada, Sannuram Mandawi, were also acquitted and released for want of evidence by a Dantewada court.

The only case pending against Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi is the controversial Essar Steel case. They have been accused of arranging “protection money” on behalf of the company to Maoists. The main accused, D.V.C.S Verma, general manager at an Essar steel plant, and B.K. Lala, Essar contractor, were arrested for allegedly disbursing the money.

While Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi are in jail, like thousands of undertrial tribal people of south Chhattisgarh, Mr. Verma and Mr. Lala had been granted bail.

The charge sheet has been presented to Dantewada district and sessions judge Anita Dehariya. Charges will be framed by the court sometime in June.

“I hope after this bail and previous acquittal it will not be a problem to get a speedy trial and hopefully acquittal in all cases,” said Mr. Dubey.

While Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi’s cases were defended by a team of lawyers and monitored by the press, national and international rights groups, there are close to 2,000 cases in which tribal people have been languishing in jail since two to seven years.

“I once tried to put the number of cases together and it was over 600 only in the Dantewada court. It must have crossed 800 now,” said senior advocate Ashok Jain. Majority of these tribal people do not speak any other language than Gondi, have little or no money to pay a fee, have no national or international rights group to defend their cases and have been booked for allegedly participating in Naxal activities.

In private conversation, top bureaucrats, politicians and lawyers acknowledge that a majority of these cases do not merit a trial in higher courts. “This is a tragedy for a democracy,” said Mr. Jain.

In an interview to The Hindu earlier this week, Chief Minister Raman Singh acknowledged that a “huge number of cases” were pending in various district courts.

SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu, May 1, 2013

 A member of All India Students Association (AISA) at Jantar Mantar on Jan. 2, 2013, demanding the release of tribal activist Soni Sori who has been languishing in Chhattisgarh jail. A file photo V.V.Krishnan
  • The HinduA member of All India Students Association (AISA) at Jantar Mantar on Jan. 2, 2013, demanding the release of tribal activist Soni Sori who has been languishing in Chhattisgarh jail. A file photo V.V.Krishnan
  • A file picture of tribal activist Soni Sori. Photo: Special Arrangement.
    The HinduA file picture of tribal activist Soni Sori. Photo: Special Arrangement.

Soni Sori, the tribal school teacher accused of acting as a courier between Essar Steel and the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), and Lingaram Kodopi, the activist-journalist trained in Delhi, have been acquitted in one more crucial case by Dantewada court.

The case filed in 2010 by Dantewada police alleged that Ms Sori and Lingaram Kodopi are among several others involved in planning and executing an attack on local Congress leader, Avdesh Singh Gautam, in which two persons were killed.

15 others, including activists of various mainstream political parties, who were booked with Ms Sori were also acquitted. Congress leader Vijay Sodi, CPI leader Lala Ram Kunjam and a Panchayat member of Dantewada, Sannuram Mandawi are among the accused who got acquitted on Wednesday.

Soni Sori has now been acquitted in six out of eight cases filed against her.

A FIR filed in Kuakonda police station in Dantewada court said that on 7 July, 2010 midnight, more than 150 Maoist soldiers attacked local Congress leader and contractor Avdesh Singh Gautam’s house. Mr Gautam’s brother in law, Sanjay Singh and house attendant Dharmendra were killed, while his son and a guard were injured.

17 accused, including Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi, were present at the scene of crime, said Mr Gautam, according to the FIR. On basis of available evidences and witness’ statements several charges were brought against the accused under Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and Explosive Substance Act which includes criminal conspiracy, rioting, arson causing death, and attempt to murder, besides a host of other allegations.

“Due to lack of enough and proper evidence additional sessions Judge Anita Dehariya acquitted Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi and others,” said Ms Sori’s lawyer in Dantewada K K Dubey on phone.

In February, this year, Ms. Sori was acquitted in two other cases. One in which, she was accused to have opened fire and used explosives to blow up vehicles of Essar Steel. In another, she was accused of firing on police near Essar Beneficiation Plant in Kirandul. “Witnesses could not confirm her involvement,” Mr. Dubey told The Hindu earlier. Last year, Ms. Sori was acquitted in two more cases.

Two more cases against Ms Sori are still in court. One of the allegations, pending in Bacheli court, accused Ms Sori of torching several vehicles. In the other case – the most crucial one – pending in Dantewada court, it is alleged that Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi were planning to hand over “protection money” from Essar Steel to the Maoists. D.V.C.S. Verma, the general manager at an Essar steel plant, and B.K. Lala, one of Essar’s contractors, were arrested in the same case, allegedly for disbursing money. According to police, Mr. Kodopi and Ms. Sori were carrying the money to the rebels. While Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi are languishing in jail, like thousands of tribal under trials (UTs) of south Chhattisgarh, two of their co-accused, Mr Verma and Mr Lala, got bail soon within months after the arrest.

90 per cent cases against tribals are concocted

Ashok Jain, a senior lawyer of Dantewada, representing some of the accused, who got acquitted with Ms Sori, said Wednesday’s judgement proves how tribals are detained under “false charges.”

“These tribals are detained under completely concocted charges, at least most of them. Their families get ruined as they spend several years as undertrials. Whenever the cases are followed well, like the case of Soni Sori, the accused gets acquitted,” Mr Jain said.

A battery of lawyers representing the high profile case of Ms Sori and other accused feel, while the case of Soni Sori or Dr Binayak Sen got enough “attention from all quarters,” cases of thousands of undertrial tribals are getting “absolutely no attention from media or civil society.”

“Most of these cases are so flimsy that higher courts may not even admit those or the accused will get bail within hours of admission. But lack of financial and people’s support, keep these tribals behind bars for years,” said one of the lawyers. “How can a poor tribal be arrested for just being a resident of an area controlled by the Maoists or sharing a lunch with the rebels, possibly under duress,” said another lawyer.

Ms Sori’s lawyers, however, sounded optimistic and said they have moved a bail petition in Chhattisgarh High Court. “I hope, Ms Sori and others will get bail soon after this acquittal in a crucial case,” said Mr Dubey.

Tuesday, Apr 16, 2013, 8:00 IST | Agency: DNA

Police in the Indian Union often organizes local football tournaments. A smiling lion of a man handing a cup to some sweat-soaked youths. In other nations where police atrocities happen less frequently, the police organize fewer football tournaments.
The Justice Verma commission, set up in the aftermath of the Delhi rape-murder case, invited views from the public. It received many inputs from many quarters on their own. Not a single Director General of Police responded to the commission’s notice. They were probably giving prizes at football tournaments. Image building becomes important when it fails to protect the rights of common people.
But I am dirty-minded enough to suspect that there is more to this ‘failing’. Let me ask — which domestic organization, getting monthly salaries and occasional bravery medals, happens to employ the largest number of alleged rapists and serial abusers? Hint: they also fight against ‘vices’ by extracting money from sex-workers of all genders after raping them. The ‘rule of law’ comes down hard when certain lines are crossed, so I will not answer the question. Are you thinking what I am thinking?
This punyabhumi is choc-a-bloc full of men and women whose sensitivities are bruised by the ‘non-desi’ concept of a sexual woman — in paint, on screen, in public. Stones are the weapon of choice of these people against this anti-national evil. Where do these stones go after national duty like attacking artists is done? Since every inch of the land is punyabhumi, the stones also carry heavenly qualities. The national fervour that is embedded in every such piece of stone does not decay with time like radioactivity. The stones continue their holy duty by marching forward to Chhattisgarh.
Some of the stones made their way into the vagina and the rectum of one Soni Sori, held by Chhattisgarh police for 8 cases. In spite of the stones that were inserted deep inside her vagina and rectum, the police could not prove the charges in 4 out of 8 cases. The other four are going on. The patriotic stones might have continued to torment an adivasi woman like Sori unless her medical examination was shifted out of Chhattisgarh to less godly Kolkata. Sori has also alleged that she has been repeatedly raped. But some of the prime witnesses, the patriotic stones, have been removed by the Kolkata doctors.
Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose of Kolkata, in his later years, started finding ‘the living response’ in many inorganic matters, including rocks. Nothing short of the expertise of that departed soul can help make sense of the testimony of the stones. Till such time, Sori’s rape will remain ‘alleged’.
The charges against Sori that were proven false in court included very specific things like opening fire and using explosives to blast the vehicles of Essar Steel, attacking the police at Kirandul and blowing up a police station. If the state were a person that conjured such crimes from thin air, concerns about mental health would arise. If the state deliberately made up these cases, then it is sociopathic. Last week, the state, after failing to prove charges against Sori (incidentally, a school-teacher), has started an enquiry to ascertain whether she should be sent to the mental asylum in Agra.
Let’s concentrate on the football tournament instead. SP saheb has already arrived for the prize distribution ceremony. I think we should all stand up, clap and smile because our culture teaches us that we should be respectful to elders, especially those who win gallantry medals. Brown women need not fear — too many lions of Bharatmata are protecting them in every street.
The writer is a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
@gargac

RAIPUR, April 15, 2013

NHRC gives clean chit  o Chhattisgarh Government on Soni Sori  

SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu

  While various national women’s organisations decried an attempt to make Soni Sori, the tribal school teacher accused of acting as a courier between Essar Steel and outlawed Maoists, undergo a “psychiatric evaluation” as a “sinister ploy” by the Chhattisgarh government, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has given a clean chit to the State government on the treatment meted out to the tribal school teacher. Last week, Ms. Sori informed the NHRC members that she has been “treated better” over the last few months, the NHRC claimed in a press statement.

Several national women’s organisations in Delhi decried psychiatric examination conducted on Ms. Sori recently in Jagdalpur jail where she is currently lodged. In a joint statement, seven women’s organisations said that in December 2012, a team of National Commission of Women (NCW) conducted a jail visit here and met Ms. Sori in custody.

“While the NCW report of the visit is still pending, a stray remark made by NCW member Shamina Shafiq, that Ms. Sori needed psychological counselling seems to have provided the Chhattisgarh government the pretext to carry out a full-fledged psychiatric evaluation on her, with the potential of declaring her mentally unsound,” the organisations said in a joint statement. Annie Raja, general secretary of National Federation of Indian Women, who was also part of the NCW team visiting the jail, pointed out that Ms. Shafiq’s remark was not an opinion shared by the entire team and hence, does not have the legitimacy of a formal observation. Hence, in a letter to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, the organisations demanded quashing of further proceedings in “psychiatric evaluation” and initiate steps to redress Ms. Sori’s genuine grievances of “sexual torture and ill-treatment.”

Another statement issued by the NHRC a day after the statement made by the women’s organisation, however, gave a clean chit to the Chhattisgarh government. The NHRC sent a two-member team to Jagdalpur jail on April 10 to “meet her to know her condition.”

“Ms. Sori informed the team that she has been treated better since the NHRC’s last visit,” the statement said. The Commission expressed “hope that the jail authorities would continue to give proper treatment to Ms. Sori.” A.G. Balakrishnan, chief of the Commission Justice, read out the statement here.

While the NHRC’s maiden ‘full commission’ in Chhattisgarh ended in a damp squib on Friday, the Commission took up certain matters and asked the government for a follow-up report. For example, in the case of 7,000 allegedly fake hysterectomies under the Centre’s insurance scheme Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY), the Commission has asked the State government for a detailed report within a month. Hysterectomies, or removal of the uterus, have been carried out in 169 hospitals in Chhattisgarh to claim money under RSVY, according to the Commission’s press statement.

In two cases of fake encounters, mentioned in the press statement, the Commission recommended a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased. Those killed in separate police encounters are Kunjami Joga of Kurtrem village of Dantewada and a Naxalite named Ramesh Barumana for “violation of human rights”. Compensation has also been recommended in cases of custodial killing of 25-year-old trial prisoner Kunjami Kosa and Santosh Dahriya. The State government “gracefully agreed” to pay compensation in all the cases, said the statement.


  • NHRC had sent a two-member team to Jagdalpur jail to know Sori’s condition
  • ‘Sori informed that she has been treated better since the NHRC’s last visitSONISORICOLLAGE

There is no “clean chit” to the Chhattisgarh government.

On 28 July 2012, Soni Sori wrote a letter to the Supreme Court Judge saying that she is being subjected to humiliating treatment inside the Raipur jail:

“Your Honour, at this time, I am in great mental turmoil and suffering. 1. I am being made to sit naked on the ground. 2. I am suffering from hunger 3. Each part of my body is touched as I am searched. I am being labelled as a “traitor” and “naxalite” and tortured. My clothes, soap, detergent have all been confiscated and all kinds of accusations are heaped upon me. All my belongings are searched after I am taken for a hearing.”  This formed the basis of an NHRC complaint, and it was to investigate this complaint that the NHRC visited Soni Sori in the Raipur Central Jail on 19 Nov 2012.  The visiting NHRC team confirmed that Soni Sori was being mistreated inside the jail.  The NHRC’s summary page says:

“The report of the Commission’s team shows that there are grounds to believe that Soni Sori has on several occasions beensingled out for harsh and humiliating ill-treatment. Even as a prisoner, she has a right to personal dignity and the right not to be subjected to physical or psychological abuse. It appears that these rights have sometimes been violated. The Commission expects the Government of Chhattisgarh to ensure that the traumatic ordeals and the odious practices to which Soni Sori has been subjected more than once are immediately stopped and do not recur.”

The visiting NHRC team reportedly reprimanded the Raipur jail staff, following which Soni has reported, that these daily harassments stopped.
Subsequently, Soni Sori was shifted out of the Raipur Central Jail on 24 Jan 2013 and taken to Jadgalpur Central Jail.  Now, on 10 April 2013, another 2 member team of the NHRC visited Soni Sori in Jagdalpur Jail and inquired whether the mistreatment of which she had complained was continuing, and she has reportedly told them (as she has told us) that she is no longer being singled out for harassment on a daily basis inside the jail.
This is hardly a clean chit to the Chhattisgarh Government!  The findings of the Commission still remain – and the findings are that Soni Sori was being subjected to “traumatic ordeals and odious practices” inside the Raipur Central Jail. Just because the ill-treatment stopped after a reprimand doesn’t erase the fact that gross ill-treatment existed at all!