Posts Tagged ‘Tamil Nadu’

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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).

 

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SP

 

CURTAIN RAISER

The NHRC is holding a two day camp sitting 11-12th April in Raipur in which out of 26 cases of which case number 21 on the cause list is the. Torture of Soni Sori in police custody Dantewada
517/33/3/2011, (L.F.541/33/3/2011, 548/33/3/2011, 518/33/3/2011)

New Delhi, April 8, 2013

The National Human Rights Commission was set up under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 with a mandate to promote and protect the human rights in the country and it is actively engaged in this task since its inception. In its efforts to reach out to the far-flung areas, the Commission has been organizing its Camp Sittings in different parts of the country. The aim of the Camp Sittings is to dispose of pending cases concerning one particular State by hearing the senior government officers; sensitize them about the importance of human rights issues and compliance of NHRC recommendations by them; meet the local NGOs to get an insight into the problems being faced by the people. In the past, the NHRC has held Camp Sittings in the States of U.P., Bihar, Bengaluru (for four southern States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu), Odisha, Gujarat, Assam and Meghalaya. The Commission has now decided to hold its Camp Sitting at Raipur in the State of Chhattisgarh on 11th-12th April, 2013. A delegation of the National Human Rights Commission headed by Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson, Justice Shri B.C. Patel and Shri Satyabrata Pal, Members, Director General (Investigation) and other senior officers will be attending the Camp Sitting at Raipur. On the opening day of the Camp Sitting on 11.04.2013, the Commission has decided to take up 26 cases in Full Commissin and Division Bench Sittings to be held at New Circuit House, Civil Lines, Raipur. 19 cases shall be taken up by the Full Commission comprising Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson, Justice Shri B.C. Patel, Member and Shri Satyabrata Pal, Member. 7 cases of deaths in police action shall be taken up by the Division Bench comprising Justice Shri B.C. Patel, Member and Shri Satyabrata Pal, Member. The cases to be taken up during the Camp Sitting, among others, include the following: Excesses by Salwa Judum Members, Torture in Police custody, Atrocities on SCs, Malnutrition, sexual abuse of students, reconstruction of school buildings, damaged /destroyed by naxalites, Death of under trial prisoner in judicial custody, Deaths in alleged fake encounter, medical negligence etc. On the second day of the Camp Sitting i.e. 12.4.2013, the Commission will hold a meeting with local NGOs on human rights issues at New Circuit House, Civil Lines, Raipur from 10.00 AM to 11.30 AM. Thereafter, the Commission will hold discussions at the same venue with the Chief Secretary, DGP, DMs, SPs and other senior civil, police and jail officers on the issues raised by the NGOs and on the following issues: ¢ Strategy of the State Government to combat naxalism in the state. ¢ Atrocities committed on tribals in districts of Bastar and Dantewada by Police, security forces and Salwa Judum. ¢ Relief and rehabilitation of tribal victims of violence by security forces and naxalites. ¢ Education for tribal children in Bastar and Dantewada district. ¢ PDS system in the State ¢ Prison Reforms. ¢ Bonded Labour & Child Labour. ¢ Manual Scavenging & Sanitation. ¢ Status of implementation of recommendations of Shri K.B. Saxena’s report on SCs. ¢ Visit of Dr. L. Mishra, Spl. Rapporteur, NHRC to Raipur on 24-27 Mar.2008 ¢ Human Rights Education at State Level. ¢ Indignity to women – practice of witchcraft. ¢ Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act. ¢ Silicosis ¢ Leprosy ¢ Intimation about deaths in police/judicial custody within 24 hours of occurrence. ¢ Intimation about death in police encounter. ¢ Intimation about death in State Government Homes/Juvenile Homes/Probation Homes. ¢ Timely submission of the legible copies of the reports by the authorities. ¢ Delay in submission of compliance reports. ¢ Non-registration of FIR by the police in time

A delegation of the Commission shall also visit Dantewada and a relief camp near Dantewada to assess the relief and rehabilitation measures undertaken by the State Government for the affected persons. On the conclusion of the Camp Sitting, Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan and Members of the Commission would brief the media about the outcome of the Camp Sitting as well as discussions with the NGOs and senior officers of the State Government for wider dissemination of information on the human rights issues and action taken by the NHRCfor their protection and promotion. In its endeavour to implement the recommendations made by Shri K.B. Saxena, IAS (Retd.) in his report submitted by him after carrying out a study about the atrocities against persons belonging to Scheduled Castes, on the request of the Commission, public hearings on various issues relating to atrocities and problems faced by Scheduled Castes, have also been held in various parts of the country. So far, such Public Hearings have been held in the States of Odisha, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The response of the people to the public hearings of the Commission was very encouraging.

 

download cause list here

CAUSE_LIST_CG_11_12_APR_2013