Posts Tagged ‘Delhi’

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/

 

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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

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

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.

 

kolsonisori

Soni Sori Mukti Morcha organized a gathering followed by a rally along with poster demonstration at Kolkata Book fair on 9th February 2013. The morcha started its gathering in front of Little Magazine Pavilion around 3.30pm. Representatives from Durbar Mahila samanwaya Committee, Bandi Mukti Committee, Durbar Disha Mahila Griha Sramik Samanwaya Committee and Binodini Sramik Union and Amra Padatik  gathered raising posters in their hand demanding unconditional release for Soni Sori.

kolsoni2

 

They marched through different sections of book fair with slogans demanding seizure of the gallantry award from SP Ankit Garg who was the mastermind of the horrible sexual torture against Soni Sori. Many participants of the book fair showed their interest regarding Soni and present state of affairs . The rally was ended in a mass gathering in front of Little Magazine pavilion whre Choton Das from Bandi Mukti Committee and others described the obnoxious episode  of custodial sexual exploitation on Soni. Many participants after listening the incident expressed their mental trauma and shock. Swapna Gayen from Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee described it as a national shame. She also illustrated that while

kolsoni1

the nation showed their discontent against a rape in Delhi– the Soni’s sexual harassment and trauma remains unaddressed till date . Parbati Halder representing Amra Padatik told that custodial rape should be dealt with stringent punitive actions.

“The issue was unbelievable”commented a few college students who attended the event and promised to pay their support in all forthcoming programme of Soni Sori Mukti Morcha.

kolsoni3

Posted: January 19, 2013 in ankit garg, chhattisgarh, SONI SORI, Supreme Court, torture, Uncategorized, Women rights Tags: , , , , , , ,

 

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The National Commission on Women (NCW) is mandated to ‘investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws’, ‘ and ‘take suo moto notice of matters relating to deprivation of women’s rights’. Soni Sori turned to them for support. As early as 10th October, 2011, several women’s groups and activists too, called upon the NCW to take action in Soni’s case.

Read more… 1,738 more words

The National Commission on Women (NCW) is mandated to ‘investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws’, ‘ and ‘take suo moto notice of matters relating to deprivation of women’s rights’. Soni Sori turned to them for support. As early as 10th October, 2011, several women’s groups and activists too, called upon the NCW to take action in Soni’s case. Many visits and appeals later, it became clear that their pleas were falling upon deaf ears. On the 10th of October, 2012, around a hundred women and student activists stormed the NCW office on Delhi’s Deen Dayal Upadhayay Marg, protesting against its year-long inaction. Video of the protest by women’s groups and activists as they storm the NCW office, demanding action – http://youtu.be/ahCqI3kBNcoOn the 4th of October 2011, Soni Sori a 36-year old adivasi school warden from Dantewada, Chhattisgarh was arrested on false charges of being a Maoist supporter and taken into custody by the Chhattisgarh police, by whom she was brutally tortured and sexually assaulted. Over the past year, her right to life and dignity has been repeatedly violated by jail and police authorities. She has been consistently humiliated and denied medical attention. Today, despite the efforts of various individuals, activists and women’s groups, Soni has received no justice. No action has been taken against the Chhattisgarh police. Instead, Ankit Garg, the SP of Dantewada under whose behest Soni Sori was subjected to sexual violence and torture, was awarded the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry. Soni, however, continues her brave fight against injustice. In an open letter to social workers, activists, the women’s commission and the citizens of India, Soni Sori poignantly asks ‘…by giving me current, by stripping me naked, or by brutally assaulting me [and] inserting stones in my rectum, will the problem of Naxalism end? Why so many atrocities on women?’ Wondering whose support she could seek out in her fight for justice she asks ‘Whom should I have called? It was the courts, themselves, who handed me over to the police’Given that the National Commission on Women (NCW) is mandated to ‘investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws’, ‘ and ‘take suo moto notice of matters relating to deprivation of women’s rights’, one would assume that Soni could turn to them for support, as she rightly has. As early as 10th October, 2011, several women’s groups and activists too, called upon the NCW to take action in Soni’s case. Many visits and appeals later, it became clear that their pleas were falling upon deaf ears. On the 27th of September 2012, representatives of some women’s organisations once again approached the NCW regarding Soni Sori’s case. Despite the fact that the NCW had ordered an inquiry with the Chhattisgarh Police, Hemlata Kheria, Member-in-Charge of Chhattisgarh, was not even aware of Sori’s case. It took two hours for her file to be dug out. The file contained a reply of the Chhattisgarh police dated 17th February, 2012. The NCW had neither taken cognizance of this reply, nor forwarded it to the complainants.protestors outisde the NCW office A fortnight later, on the 10th of October, 2012, around a hundred women and student activists stormed the NCW office on Delhi’s Deen Dayal Upadhayay Marg, protesting against its year-long inaction. Meeting with the protestors, NCW member secretary Charu Walikhanna informed the group that Soni Sori’s case had been closed by the NCW on the 4th of October, 2012, saying that “since this matter is sub judice in the Supreme Court, it will not be proper for us to intervene.” Their closure report stated that ‘at our end, nothing seems more to be done.’ Once again, the NCW had not bothered to convey its decision to the complainants. Had a simple ‘report’ from the accused in the case – the Chhattisgarh Police – sufficed to convince the NCW of their innocence? Could it have served as grounds enough for the apex national level organization instituted to protect and promote the interests of women, to close down a case of reported torture and sexual violence by a woman prisoner? We are compelled then to ask whether the NCW is effectively addressing the issues for which it had been created and upholding the rights of those whose interests it is supposed to protect. The NCW, established in 1992 under the provisions of the 1990 National Commission for Women Act, was set up to monitor, scrutinize and influence state policies – a body that was located inside the government and yet independent of it – giving it in the dual responsibility of being a watchdog body that constantly scrutinizes and checks anti-people policies of the state and also one that positively helps to develop capacities within the government to address the issues of the marginalized from the rights and justice perspective. The creation of the NCW was the result of the pressure of a vibrant women’s movement which began in the 1970s that gave visibility to women’s issues and changed the state’s perspectives on women’s roles and participation. Given its history and intent, one would assume that the NCW should be expected to play a pro-active role in the struggles of women, and do so by influencing state policies and institutions. But to what extent is any of this being done? To what extent is the NCW accomplishing what it set out to do? Is it exercising its power to ‘call for special studies or investigations into specific problems or situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women’? To ‘take up the cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution and of other laws relating to women with the appropriate authorities’? To what extent is it able to bring in changes in the culture and practices of bureaucratic structures of the state? In the case of Soni Sori, none of this was done. Despite being empowered to conduct independent fact-findings, to visit jails and remand homes, to submit their reports in court, to summon witnesses and examine them, and to hold public hearings, the NCW did not utilize any of these extensive powers to look into the serious complaints of Soni Sori who has been imprisoned and tortured. It made no attempt to contact her when she was hospitalized in Delhi for over a month, or help women’s groups reach her in jail. But this isn’t the first time that the NCW has failed to execute its sworn duty. It has repeatedly and frequently denied reports of sexual violence by security forces in several parts of the country, instead of seeking to investigate and end the impunity granted in such crimes. It refused to get involved in the Shopian case where Nilofer and Aasiya Jan were sexually assaulted and killed; it remained a mute spectator to the whisking away of Sodi Shambho, the crucial witness to Gompad massacre, by the Chhattisgarh police; it has yet to take action on a 15-month old petition for an investigation into the human rights violation of Irom Sharmila, who is being illegally detained by the Government. When the women of Koodankulam were brutally assaulted by the police for fighting for their rights, the NCW looked the other way. In Khairlanji, as a Dalit mother and daughter were stripped naked, dragged from their hut and hacked to death by the dominant castes of their village, the silence of the NCW resounded through the nations ears.Achievements of the NCW: a news clipping from the NCW website showing Chairperson Mamta Sharma at the launch of an album of devotional songs for Lord Ganesha The conduct of the Commission over the years has obscured the systemic injustices inflicted on women, trivialized the violations, and reduced the dignity of the institution itself. It isn’t simply on account of inaction that the NCW has failed us. Several controversial positions have reflected the Commission’s lack of understanding of women’s issues. Advising victims of sexual assault to dress “carefully” to avoid sexual violence and calling upon women to graciously accept the term ‘sexy’, members of the commission have repeatedly revealed their anti-women prejudices and patriarchal outlook. Probing the appointment of the Chairperson and members of the Commission puts some of these remarks in context. Rather than being chosen by virtue of their involvement in the women’s movement and their championship of women’s rights, the appointment of the Chairperson and members of the NCW has been largely influenced by political considerations. Over the years, several have been nominees of the government in power with no history of working on women’s issues. As a result, they have not only lacked the experience and necessary expertise for the job, but also the perspectives needed for processes of social change.
The political nature of the appointments has affected the autonomous functioning of the Commission and has compromised their ability to act against those in power. After a prolonged discussion on October 10th, 2012, once the protesting activists pointed out the provisions of the NCW Act which empowers the Commission to intervene and/or assist in any pending case, members of the Commission finally relented and agreed to reopen Soni Sori’s case. However, our experience of dealing with the NCW, together with the experience of countless women over the years, has compelled us to ask some fundamental questions of the Commissions members and its mode of functioning. At a time when we are faced with an unprecedented number of incidents of State repression and sexual violence against women, the need for an autonomous and effective statutory body that protects the interests of women is stronger than ever before. It is most distressing that at a time like this, the National Commission on Women has become inert, ineffective and incompetent. The WSS, together with other organizations and voices of resistance, refuses to let the NCW lightly explain away its inactivity and shrug its duties. We demand accountability and action. The protest on October 10, 2012 resulted in the formulation of the following demands: • Immediate resignation of the present Chairperson and other Members • Re-constitution of the Commission in an open and transparent manner •
Immediate enquiry into the custodial torture of Soni Sori • Initiation of investigations into conditions of women prisoners in Chhattisgarh • Performance audit of the NCW by an independent panelThe action was part of the JUSTICE FOR SONI SORI CAMPAIGN and was attended by members and activists of All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), All India Students Association (AISA), Delhi Forum, Delhi Solidarity Group, National Alliance of People’s Movement, People’s Democratic Front of India (PDFI), People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Right to Water Campaign, SAHELI, and Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS).