Murder Charge Is Absurd, Top Cop’s Attempt To Harass Us: DU Professor Sundar

Hindustan Times 8 November 2016.


Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, who has been booked along with Maoists on charges of murder of a tribal villager in insurgency-hit Sukma district, said on Tuesday the FIR against her was “patently absurd”.


Armed Maoists allegedly killed Shamnath Baghel with sharp weapons on Friday night at his residence in Nama village, around 450km away from Raipur. In her complaint, Baghel’s wife mentioned that he was getting threats from Maoists after he and other villagers complained against Sundar in May this year.


“How can we be charged with murder and rioting when we are not even there? This is clearly part of IG (SRP) Kalluri’s attempt to intimidate and harass journalists, lawyers, researchers, political leaders and human rights activists who have exposed the reign of fake encounters, gang rapes etc,” Sundar said.


Kalluri has been in the news for what rights activists describe as his high-handed style in tackling Maoists in the region. He has had several much-publicised run-ins with journalists and is said to have been instrumental in the detention of many of them.


Police in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar have said they are getting ready to take “strict action” against Sundar and others booked in the case.


“The family of Sham Nath Baghel is in grief and hence we will take their statements in next few days. We have enough evidences and documents and we will produce them (Sundar and others) in court to ensure that strict action is taken against them,” Kalluri, the controversial inspector general of police of Bastar, told HT on Tuesday.


Kalluri said Sundar, who visited the region in May, was booked with nine others on the complaint of Baghel’s wife.


Sundar, who heads the sociology department at Delhi University, has worked extensively on Maoist insurgency, especially in the Bastar region. Her recent book, The Burning Forest: India’s war in Bastar, takes a close look at the conflict and its consequences for the area and its people.


“…this is a direct fall out of the CBI chargesheet of special police officers turned constables for arson in Tadmetla in 2011, an operation which Mr Kalluri directed. I condemn the killing of Shamnath Baghel and reiterate that it has nothing to do with us,” Sundar said.


Chhattisgarh CID to probe tribal man’s murder case involving DU, JNU professors

Hindustan Times 10 November 2016


Chhattisgarh Police on Wednesday transferred to the CID the case of tribal man’s murder in Sukma district, in which two women professors – one from Delhi University and the other from Jawaharlal Nehru University- have been booked along with Maoists and other activists.


“We have transferred the case to the state CID following a recommendation made by Bastar police (in this regard),” Chhattisgarh director general of police AN Upadhyay told PTI.


Inspector general of police (Bastar Range), SRP Kalluri, in a letter to the DGP on Wednesday recommended a probe by Crime Investigation Department into the murder of Shamnath Baghel, who was allegedly killed by armed Maoists at his native village Nama on the night of November 4.


A case was registered against DU professor Nandini Sundar, JNU professor Archana Prasad, CPI (Marxist) Chhattisgarh secretary Sanjay Parate, Vineet Tiwari of Delhi’s Joshi Adhikari Institute of Social Studies, and others along with Maoists in the case based on the complaint lodged by the victim’s wife.


In the letter written to the DGP, Kalluri said, “Since DU professor Nandini Sundar has been levelling personal allegations against me via several media reports, I recommend to hand over the case to CID for a transparent investigation.”


The IG’s recommendation for CID probe comes after a letter was written by Sukma SP Indira Kalyan Elesela earlier in the day, requesting him for a CID probe in the case.


The SP had also claimed that Sundar in her statement to media was making “false allegations” against the police and trying to malign the image of the department.


“It would be appropriate that the case be transferred to CID for further investigation to maintain transparency,” the SP said in the letter.


Thereafter, Kalluri wrote to the DGP requesting him for the CID probe.


Meanwhile, Elesela told PTI that teams have been formed and sent to Delhi for further investigation into the case.


“Investigation teams have been constituted and dispatched to Delhi. It’s a very sensitive issue and we will explore all the angles into it,” Elesela said.


The accused in the case have been booked under IPC sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 302 (murder), 450 (house trespass in order to commit offence), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy); and relevant sections of the arms act, and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.


DU professor Sundar will not be arrested, Chhattisgarh tells SC

Hindustan Times 11 November 2016


The Chhattisgarh government on Friday assured the Supreme Court that it will not arrest Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, who was named as an accused in the alleged murder of a tribal person in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.


The assurance came as the bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel indicated that they may put on hold the FIR in which Sundar and other civil society activists have been named as accused in the November 4 murder of Shamnath Baghel by Maoists.


While telling the court that no coercive action would be taken against Sundar, additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta said the state would submit to the court its report in a sealed cover before the next date of hearing on November 15.


In an apparent reference to Sundar being booked in the murder case, the bench observed: “You are aggravating the situation. You have to take a pragmatic view of the situation and find practical solutions.”


FIR Against Nandini Sundar is Just Police Vendetta, Says Soni Sori

The Quint, November 18, 2016,


Activists who are fighting for the rights of tribals in Bastar, have claimed that the charges against professors Nandini Sundar of Delhi University and Archana Prasad of Jawaharlal Nehru University are “trumped-up”.


This, they believe, happened because the duo had the temerity to take on Bastar’s police chief who is widely accused of employing authoritarian tactics.

Violence Leads to Harrassment


Soni Sori, a school teacher-turned-activist (and herself a victim of Chhattisgarh Police’s high-handedness), termed the FIR against Sundar, Prasad and others in an alleged murder case in Bastar ‘fake’.


“There’s nothing new about the ways of the police in Bastar,” Sori, who was arrested and allegedly tortured by the police, said.


Police in Bastar have this method of putting people behind bars on trumped-up charges. Any act of violence – be it a blast or arson – is enough for police to harass villagers and land them in jail. The real Maoists are hardly affected, only the poor tribals are.


An FIR was lodged at Tongpal police station in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh against Sundar for murdering a tribal, Shamnath Baghel, in insurgency-hit Sukma district on 7 November. She was booked along with JNU professor Prasad and a few others.


Indiscriminate Exploitation


Sundar is a sociology professor and an activist working for the welfare of tribals in Bastar. She has also recently penned a book on their lives.


In the wake of the hue and cry from intellectuals and activists, the Chhattisgarh government has now assured the Supreme Court that it won’t arrest Sundar and any of the other activists without giving them a one-month notice.


The case against Sundar was filed on the complaint of Baghel’s wife, who had reportedly told police that her husband was threatened by the professor and Maoists in May to give up his anti-Maoist activities.


Baghel was allegedly killed by armed Maoists on 4 November during which, his wife contended, the ultras referred to the warning given to him earlier.


Personal Vendetta Killing Tribals


Sori, however, termed the action against Sundar as “nothing but an eyewash and just another attempt at weeding out any element which impedes police’s indiscriminate exploitation of the villagers”.


She also mentioned Bastar Inspector General SRP Kalluri, a controversial figure, who, according to her, is one of the reasons for the increasing body count in the region.


“It’s personal vendetta which has inspired this move against Sundar. She was responsible for bringing a CBI inquiry against Kalluri concerning the burning of villagers’ homes in 2011,” said Himanshu Kumar, a human rights activist.


The CBI report, which came on 23 October this year, found the Special Police Officers (SPOs) in-charge guilty of the operation against the Maoists. According to Kumar, the police had originally blamed the Maoists for setting on fire 160 houses in Tadmetla village of Bastar region of south Chhattisgarh.


(With inputs from IANS)


Background to the False Murder Charges Against Nandini Sundar and Others

Nandini Sundar, 9 November 2016


A first information report has been registered against six of us (and assorted others) for the murder of a villager called Shamnath Baghel on November 4th, ostensibly on the complaint of his wife. The charges are serious and include murder, rioting, possession of arms, and unlawful activities (UAPA).


This FIR comes in close succession to a series of incidents implicating the police.


In 2011, the police had gone on combing operations in which they burnt 300 homes in the villages of Tadmetla, Timapuram and Morpalli. Three women were raped and three men were killed. The Salwa Judum leaders, a vigilante group supported by the police also attacked Swami Agnivesh, a well known human rights activist and religious leader. In July 2011, the Supreme Court ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) enquiry as part of the petition filed by Nandini Sundar, Manish Kunjam and others.


On 17 October 2016, the CBI chargesheeted 7 Special Police Officers (SPOs)  for arson and 26 Salwa Judum leaders for the attack on Swami Agnivesh.


On 23 October 2016, Inspector General (IG) of Bastar, S.R.P. Kalluri took responsibility for directing the operations, claimed the CBI was lying and accused Nandini Sundar of bribing villagers to depose.


On 24 October 2016, the former SPOs turned armed auxiliary forces/constables burnt effigies of activists.


On 26 October 2016, AGNI, a state sponsored vigilante group Agni, and RSS activists attacked a press conference by Manish Kunjam, President of the Adivasi Mahasabha, and one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court case, which resulted in the CBI chargesheet against SPOs. The Communist Party of India (CPI) office in Jagdalpur was vandalised.


On November 7 2016, the Bastar police, led by Mr. Kalluri, framed a false FIR against Nandini Sundar, Archana Prasad and others for the murder of Shamnath Baghel by the Maoists on November 4th.


The background to this FIR


A group of us had gone on a visit to Bastar in May 2016. In a group of villages we visited — Nama, Soutnar, and Kumakoleng — the villagers had formed an anti-Maoist patrol gang, which they called the “tangiya gang” with support from the police. The police got a fake complaint filed against us (ostensibly in the name of villagers) saying we incited the villagers against the police, and that we are in favour of the Maoists. The Indian Express had also done a story quoting the villagers saying they had not filed any complaint.


Our press release, as well as articles in Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) and the Times of India show that we had done no such thing as inciting villagers or threatening to burn their houses. Instead we faithfully reported the villagers dilemma caught between the police and Maoists, and stressed the need for peace talks.


On November 4, the Maoists killed the leader of this anti-Maoist gang. We are being charged with his murder, even though we last visited six months ago.


The police are also claiming that I had malafide intent because I used a false name, Richa Keshav, on that visit. However, this was only used once, and for the safety of the team. I have had a long history of persecution by the Chhattisgarh police.


The people being charged:  


Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi University (author of The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar, Juggernaut Press 2016; also lead petitioner in the case in which the Supreme Court banned Salwa Judum in 2011, Nandini Sundar & Ors. vs. State of Chhattisgarh)


Archana Prasad, Professor, Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies, JNU (author of Environmentalism and the Left, Leftword 2004), also member of AIDWA, CPM’s women wing)


Vineet Tiwari, former journalist and currently at the Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies, also member of the CPI.


Sanjay Parate, State Secretary of the CPM, Chhattisgarh.


Manju Kawasi, Sarpanch of Guphidi village, CPI activist, Sukma District, Chhattisgarh.


Mangalram Karma, former resident of Nama, now working as a carpenter elsewhere.


And assorted Maoists.


NHRC summons the Chief Secretary of Government of Chhattisgarh and IGP, Bastar to explain the allegations of hostility and abuse of power against Human Rights Defenders (17.11.2016)

New Delhi, 17th November, 2016


The National Human Rights Commission has noted and taken suo motu cognizance of “the nationwide outcry and protest on IG of Bastar Range Shri S.R.P. Kalluri for registering FIR No.27/2016 P.S. Tongpal dated 5.11.2016 against Delhi University Professor Archana Prasad, JNU Prof. Nandini Sundar, Vineet Tiwari, Sanjay Parate of CPI(M) and Manju Kawasi for offences of murder, criminal trespass, conspiracy and for offences under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. It has been alleged that she and Prof. Nandini Sundar and other associate professors are being threatened by Bastar Police for arresting these activists in the said FIR.


The reports in press and media over last week have alleged that Chhattisgarh Police has named Prof. Nandini Sundar and ten others as accused in the murder of a tribal Mr. Samnath Baghel in Sukma District on 4.11.2016. It is reported that he was killed by Maoists as he had been leading a campaign against Maoists activities since April, 2016. It has been alleged that these professors had visited Bastar in May, 2016, while this murder has taken place in November, 2016. There is no apparent connection between murder and visit of these human rights activists and, therefore, it has been alleged that they have been framed in mala fide manner by police to settle scores. It has been stated that FIR has been registered in the name of the wife of killed Baghel.


The Commission also takes Judicial Notice of Petition filed by Prof. Nandini Sundar recently in Hon’ble Supreme Court against atrocities by Bastar Police against tribal people by burning of their homes. The Hon’ble Supreme Court ordered investigation by CBI. The CBI found S.R.P. Kalluri, IG of Police, Bastar Range responsible for the burning of homes. She has also earlier filed a petition in Supreme Court in Salwa Judum case in 2007 against atrocities by police in the tribal areas. She with other lawyers and journalists has in the past brought to the notice of the Commission mass rape of women, murders and other crimes by security officers under the umbrella of police. The Commission is separately examining those complaints and has sought comments from the State of Chhattisgarh on the findings submitted to the Commission by its team after visiting Chhattisgarh.


The Commission also took suo motu cognizance this month against the unprecedented acts of hostility and indiscipline by Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Police in burning the effigies of Prof. Nandini Sundar and other lawyers and journalists as they were instrumental in exposing the deeds of police.


The Commission on consideration of the whole situation obtaining in Chhattisgarh over more than a year views the action of registration of FIR against Prof. Nandini Sundar and others as an act in line with earlier acts of hostility displayed by police.


It has also been reported in the press that Mrs. Baghel, wife of killed Samnath Baghel had told NDTV on 4th November, 2016 that she had not named Prof. Nandini Sundar or anyone in her complaint. She told that Maoists had attacked their house while they were sleeping on 4th November, 2016. The reports also show that Prof. Nandini Sundar told ANI that she and others have not been in the area for last five months.


Naming of these human rights activists in the FIR in the backdrop and circumstances mentioned above lends credence of the observation of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) that all this was part of the State Police vendetta against the lawyers, journalists and human rights activists who have been critical of fake encounters, mass rapes, arson, etc. by security forces. The naming of these persons in FIR appears to be the ploy to stop their entry and visit to the tribal areas for exposing their misdeeds.


In the considered view of the Commission, Police of Chhattisgarh in the circumstances mentioned above owes its explanation to the Commission as there are allegations and its action seems to be coloured by malafide, hostility and abuse of power on the allegations of false implication to silence the human rights defenders. Though, the Commission is aware of the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court given on 15.11.2016 directing issue of notice of four weeks before their arrest, yet the acts on the part of police stand on independent footing for the Commission to intervene.


It is the duty and function of the Commission to see that the faith of the people in the police is not eroded and society is governed by rule of law and faith of people in upholding the human rights of people is restored and vindicated at the earliest.


The Commission is deeply disturbed by the state of affairs in the State of Chhattisgarh over last one year or more and is of the view that the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Chhattisgarh and Shri S.R.P.Kalluri, IGP, Bastar Range should appear in person before the Commission 30.11.2016 at 11.00 am with all reports to explain the allegations made against the police and administration in the press media and by human rights defenders.


The Commission also is of the view that since allegations are made against the Shri. S.R.P. Kalluri, IGP, Bastar Range, the Commission would like to know from them why the investigation in the FIR now registered should not be handed over to an independent agency like CB CID or CBI.”

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