Archive for January, 2013



MOHAMMAD ALI, Jan 3,2013, The Hindu

“Has been subjected to barbaric sexual abuse in police custody

Locating the alleged sexual torture of the young tribal teacher Soni Sori in police custody at Raipur Central Jail in the context of the ongoing debate and agitation against violence against women, several activists and intellectuals held a silent protest march from Jantar Mantar to the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Ahead of her case which is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court on Thursday, they demanded her immediate release and punishment to the Dantewada Superintendent of Police.

Chhattisgarh-based human rights activist Himanshu Kumar, who has been in touch with Soni Sori through letters, argued that Ms. Sori’s human rights were being grossly violated as she was being repeatedly subjected to the most barbaric and repulsive sexual abuse for more than a year now in police custody in Raipur Central Jail. “At least two separate medical reports have shown evidence of stones being shoved into her private parts. Yet, despite repeated protests, no action had been taken till now,” he said.

Former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union Sucheta De alleged that despite Ms. Sori’s repeated requests for safety and protection from the “torture” of Chhattisgarh Police, she has not been transferred out of the State. “She has been in jail for more than a year on spurious, trumped up charges. Finally, her case will be heard on Thursday at the Supreme Court and we demand justice for her.”

Mahtab Alam from the Coalition for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders specifically highlighted that the SP who was accused of torturing Ms. Sori was awarded by the Government. “It is a matter of great shame and horror that far from being punished, he was awarded with the presidential police medal on January 26 last year.”

The speakers also highlighted that in reaction to the outrage across the country against the gang-rape, politicians have demanded fast-track courts to deal with rape cases. They have been ignoring the protesters demands of fast-tracking the over one lakh pending rape cases.

The silent protest march, which saw the participation among others by activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, activist Swami Agnivesh and academician Uma Chakravarty, started from Jantar Mantar which has been seeing ongoing protest against cases of violence against women and gang-rape of the 23-year-old medical student. The march was stopped a few metres away from the Supreme Court.

A case in point is the tribal teacher Soni Sori in Chhattisgarh who was arrested on charges of playing courier between Maoist groups and a corporate. Sori has written heart-wrenching accounts of sexual abuse at the hands of police officials


Sexual violence against women has been a feature of many riots and conflicts but a culture of impunity prevails


It was in the August of 2008 that a Catholic nun from the Divyajyoti Pastoral Centre in the Kandhamal district of Orissa was allegedly raped and sexually assaulted by multiple perpetrators before being stripped and paraded. “She was forcibly made to walk in the market by a mob, which jeered at her, made lewd remarks such as “hi, beautiful” and commented on the size of her breasts,” states a report prepared by the National People’s Tribunal on Kandhamal in 2010.
The incident occurred in the midst of communal violence and has now been forgotten like many others. Nearly five years later, the nun’s only hope for justice lies in a sessions court in Cuttack where the case has been transferred.
At a…

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CHHATTISGARH, Jan 04, 2013
New Delhi: As the outrage over the brutal gangrape and subsequent death of the 23-year-old medical student has galvanised a nation with questionable gender parity, it is difficult to place the story of Soni Sori, the young tribal teacher from Chhattisgarh, in the ongoing introspection and legislation against sexual violence. If there is a growing national consensus against sexual violence, there is also the same consensus among most of the urban agitators at India Gate and other cities to rid the nation of the Naxal problem. And when the police and security forces, assigned the task of eliminating the Maoists from India’s forests and hinterlands, adopt sexual violence as one of their tools, the discourse over rape and gender justice is muddled.

Sori, in police custody since October 2011 at the Raipur Central Jail, was arrested on charges of being a courier between Maoists and the Essar group. In custody, Sori was not only allegedly raped at the Dantewada police station, but tortured too with stones inserted into her private parts. Her health since the assault has been deteriorating and activists fear she may lose her life before her plea for bail is addressed by the courts. In her many letters, Soni has been complaining of bad health and being denied sustenance. “Giving electric shocks, stripping me naked, shoving stones inside me – is this going to solve the Naxal problem,” she once asked in a letter to the Supreme Court.

Activists insist Sori was jailed for questioning human rights violations by police and security forces in the state. “Chhattisgarh has an unwritten set of rules about how an adivasi should behave. You don’t organise, you don’t agitate, you don’t protest against human rights violations, you don’t protest against the state, and you certainly don’t protest against industrial houses that are in Bastar to usher in the industrial revolution,” Himanshu Kumar, member of the Chhattisgarh chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), said. Sori has also been termed as a prisoner of conscience by the Amnesty International in 2012.

Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, slammed the recent National Commission for Women member Shamina Shafiq’s visit to Soni Sori in a Raipur jail. The NCW member, after the meeting, said Sori is doing fine and that she only needs psychological counselling. Calling the statement ‘outrageous’, Krishnan demanded the immediate release of Sori since ‘she continues to be in the captivity of her rapists’. The crucial hearing of her case in the Supreme Court, scheduled for Thursday, was deferred until Tuesday without citing any reason.

Meanwhile, a section of the anti-rape protesters in Delhi has included Sori’s story in India’s fight against sexual violence. On Wednesday, members of the All India Students’ Association (AISA), along with several intellectuals and political leaders including Aam Aadmi Party’s Prashant Bhushan and social activist Swami Agnivesh, staged a silent march, demanding Sori’s release. “She has been repeatedly subjected to the most barbaric and repulsive sexual abuse in police custody – two separate medical reports has shown evidence of stones being shoved into her private parts. And yet, despite repeated protests, no action has been taken till now,” a statement issued by AISA said.

The Delhi protesters also demanded punishment for Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg who allegedly ordered the sexual torture of Sori. Garg was awarded the president’s medal in 2012 for professional excellence. In the continuing tragedy of Chhattisgarh, one of the worst hit by Maoist insurgency, Sori, despite the sexual violence and torture, remains just one amongst its many dramatis personae.