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Soni Sori's acquittal after 11 years suggests India's 'flawed' trial-punishment system

By Reny Ayline* 

On March 14, 2022, a Dantewada court acquitted Adivasi rights activist Soni Sori in the 2011 sedition case filed against her. Soni Sori, along with three others, were charged with supplying money to Maoists, and Sori had been arrested in the case in 2011 from Delhi.
The acquittal means that Sori has now been exonerated in all the cases filed against her during the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state. The order was made public on March 15, 2022.
Soni Sori had to suffer many atrocities during the case and she had spoken about the police abuses that she suffered as well. It took 11 long years later for a special court in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, to acquit the tribal activist.
Soni Sori has played a significant role in exposing police and paramilitary atrocities and other human rights abuses faced by tribals in the wake of the Maoist poaching in Dantewada. She was arrested on terrorism charges in the name of political enmity and suffered many tortures in custody.
Justice can only be done if action is taken against those who make false allegations and torture in custody. The government should voluntarily file a case to bring to justice those who tortured.
There are many others who are languishing in jail under trumped up charges. In a system where the trail itself is punishment, acquittals always bring with them a strong anger about the injustices that the victim suffered during the trial.
Soni Sori was a school teacher before the case. Her life was turned upside down with the case. She has also spoken about the time she had to spend in jail, and has asked how the state can give her those years of her life back.
While welcoming the acquittal, human rights organisation the National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO) expressed its anger over the injustices that has been meted out to Soni Sori. The suffering caused by this trial cannot be compensated. NCHRO demanded that there be an attempt to account for her suffering.
A system that makes the process of trial itself the punishment is a flawed system, and we urge others to forge a collective effort to rectify this system.
---
*National Secretary, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO)

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