‘Psychiatric evaluation of Soni Sori an attempt to declare her mentally ill’

Posted: April 13, 2013 in ankit garg, chhattisgarh, SONI SORI, Supreme Court, torture, Women rights
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By Newzfirst Correspondent4/12/13

 

New Delhi – After learning from Soni Sori’s lawyers that she is being subjected to a psychiatric evaluation by the Chhattisgarh government in Central Jail, Jagdalpur, women’s rights groups Thursday termed this as an attempt to declare her mentally unsound, thus creating doubts over her complaints of sexual torture in police custody and subsequent harassment in jail.

“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),” rights groups said in a letter addressed to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Thursday.

Soni Sori, a tribal teacher from Chhattisgarh, was jailed on charges of aiding Maoists in October 2011. Presently, she is kept in the Central Jail of Jagdalpur. Sori was arrested in Delhi on 7 October 2011 and was handed over to Chhattisgarh police the next day.

“On the night of 8.10.2011, from 12 midnight to 2:30 am, SP Ankit Garg called me into a room in the police station, gave me electric shocks (current shock), took my clothes off and severely tortured me”, Sori wrote in a letter addressed to the Supreme Court last year.

On 2 December 2011, the report submitted by NRS Medical Hospital established that two stones were found in her private parts and rectum, clearly corroborating the veracity of Soni Sori’s charge.

“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,” the letter, addressed to Chhattisgarh CM, read.

Teams from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Commission of Women (NCW) 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 had 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 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, 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.”

This casual remark – made by Shamina Shafiq – was taken out of context and was used as the basis for ordering the jail authorities to administer a psychiatric evaluation of Soni Sori, women’s rights activists alleged.

“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,” they said in the letter to CM Raman Singh.

“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,” they added.

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