The Chhattisgarh police's controversial move to file FIR charging Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi University and Prof Archana Prasad of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, of murder of a tribal in Bastar is all set to become a major human rights concern across India.
Two top organizations, Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh (CPJC) and Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), have taken the lead in alleging that the FIR has been filed in order to take revenge against Sundar and others after the recent CBI revelation that there is no truth in the cops' story that Naxalites had burnt three villages in 2011, though this atrocity was found to be the handiwork of security forces and their supporters.
Alongside Sundar and Prasad, the FIR has also been filed gainst Vineet Tiwari of the Joshi Adhikar Institute of the CPI, Sanjay Parate of the CPI (M), apart from villagers and CPI activists Mangla of Nama and Manju Kawasi, sarpanch of Gadiras, and the sections quoted are 302, 147,148, 149, 450,120B of IPC, 25 and 27 of Arms Act.
They have all been charged with the murder of a villager Samnath Baghel,from Nama village in Sukma, during their fact-finding mission in May this year (click HERE to read). The mission documents various incidents of forceful surrenders of villagers by the police”, the statement says, adding, “They also looked into the allegations of Maoist backlash on villagers who have joined the security forces or surrendered to the police.”
The statement points to how Sundar and others have, for several years, “relentlessly exposed” atrocities in Bastar, more particularly the March 2011 incidents, in which hundreds of homes and granaries were burnt down, women were raped and three men were killed in three villages namely, Tadmetla, Morpalli and Timapuram of Dantewada district.
What came as a shocker to the security forces was the CBI's closure reports, which held police responsible for arson, especially the then SP, Dantewada, SRP Kalluri, the statement says, adding, the “vindictiveness against Sundar was clearly visible in his press conference on October 23, 2016, i.e one day after the CBI report was submitted in the Supreme Court, where he denied allegations made by CBI and suggested that Sundar had bribed the villagers to give statements against the police.”
Currently, Kalluri is Inspector General (Bastar Range), a post he has been holding since 2014, after which there has been a “sudden rise” in atrocities in the Bastar region. In the last one year the security forces under him “formed ... a number of vigilante groups like the now disbanded Samajik Ekta Manch, Naxal Peedith Sangharash Samiti and the newly-formed group Agni, all “to harass and intimidate everyone”, alleges the statement.
Meanwhile, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), condemning the action of the Chhattisgarh police in registering FIR against Sundar and others, has sought impartial investigation into the death of Baghel, even as denouncing “the reported threats issued by Kalluri to send special teams to Delhi arrest these academics”, even as demanding withdrawal of the “false” FIR.
PUCL notes, “The wife of the deceased has claimed that her husband was killed by Maoists, who said that he was being punished for not following the directives of a fact-finding team lead by Sundar which had visited the village in May 2016. Even if we are to believe that an unlettered village woman can clearly remember and repeat the six unfamiliar names above, it is evident that no crime can be made out in the FIR against the members of the fact finding team.”