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India: Statement by Delhi University Teacher’s Union in Defense of Academics Being Falsly Implicated by Chattissgarh Police

9 November 2016

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The DUTA strongly condemns the filing of FIR against Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology in Delhi University on charges of murder of an adivasi in the Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. Others named in the FIR include Professor Archana Prasad of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Nandini Sundar is a leading anthropologist and noted human rights activist of India. She has written extensively on Maoist insurgency in Chhattisgarh. Her book "The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar" narrates the failure of the institutions of democracy and gross Human Rights violation including sexual violence in Chhattisgarh, especially in the Bastar region. It is important to note that it was on her petition that the Supreme Court in 2011 had instructed the disbanding of the notorious Salwa Judum militia that mirrored complete lawlessness of local police. More recently, her intervention in the Supreme Court, along with some others, led the CBI to accept the role of the security forces in burning down three villages in Bastar.

Nandini Sundar, as media reports say, has refuted all the charges as motivated and intimidating and felt that she was being harassed as she has dedicated almost a decade in exposing the atrocities committed by the police and other state agencies in Chhattisgarh. She has said that the FIR naming her as a suspect in a murder case filed in November 2016 "is absurd, bizarre and patently malafide". It is important to note that her last visit to Bastar as part of a fact-finding team led to a damning report against both the Bastar police and Maoists while highlighting the pitiable plight of the adivasis who are caught in the war between the police and the Maoists.

The news reports identify the vendetta politics unleashed by the state in general and the controversial IG of police SRP Kalluri in particular against critics of the exploitation of adivasi land and resources. The Bastar police, in an unusual move, have also written to the vice-chancellors of Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University where Sundar and Prasad are faculty members, that it is conducting an enquiry against them.

It is clear that the police and the state have been systematically targeting these public intellectuals and political activists since the time they wrote a fact-finding report on the repressive state machinery. The DUTA decries the unlawful repression of dissenting voices and the penchant to treat people in the academia and activists as enemies as is seen in harassment and victimisation of teachers at Central University of Haryana, Delhi University Professor G. N. Saibaba, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union and attempt to ban prominent news channels like NDTV. The DUTA demands immediate quashing of the FIR and prompt intervention of public institutions like courts and NHRC to ensure the proper functioning of democracy and justice to Professor Nandini Sundar and others as the delay in response only emboldens the authorities who are misusing their power.

Nandita Narain (DUTA President) Sandeep (DUTA Secretary)

Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA)
Day Centre Building, Chhatra Marg
University of Delhi, Delhi-110007
Tel: 27667822, 27666351, 27667725/1697