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Justice for Soni Sori - Punish officials responsible for custodial torture in Chhattisgarh, India

Statement by women’s groups and concerned citizens

28 November 2011

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Shri Raman Singh
- Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh
- Room No. 303, Mantralaya, D.K.S. Bhavan,
- Raipur (C.G.) 492001
- Fax no. 0771 2221306, 2331001

Date: 28 November 2011

SUBJECT: JUSTICE NEEDS TO BE SERVED TO SONI SORI: DEMAND FOR ACTION AGAINST OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE FOR CUSTODIAL TORTURE AND DECEPTION IN COURT.

Sir,

We have already written to you in protest against the custodial torture of Soni Sori of Dantewara district (letter attached). Further, at a meeting with your Principal Secretary, N. Baijendra Kumar in Delhi on 14th October 2011, he assured us that she was ’safe in jail and that her wounds were not serious. He also said that the Health Secretary had confirmed the fact’ and so there was no need for concern about her safety. However, as all the facts reveal, this was far from the truth.

The video that emerged showing Soni writhing in pain in the Dantewada District Hospital on 11 October was indeed, was evidence of custodial torture. On 15th October, the District Hospital, Dantewada medical report confirmed that she had contusion in her head and spine and that black marks were visible on her finger tips – further confirming this fact.

In her recent letter to the Supreme Court, Soni Sori clearly states that she had been pulled out of her cell at the Jagdalpur Police Station at ’midnight of 8th/9th October on the orders of SP Ankit Garg, stripped and given electric shocks’. She woke up the next morning with acute pain all over her body, head and spine. That she could not even get down from the vehicle and walk to the court and be presented in front of the Magistrate is further proof of the extreme pain that she was undergoing because of the injuries inflicted upon her the previous night.

At this point itself we had ample reason to fear that Soni had also been subjected to sexual abuse and torture. This apprehension has also been proven true with the revelations of the medical report of the NRS Medical College Hospital in Kolkata which has stated clearly that two stones had been inserted in her vagina and one in her rectum, and that she has annular tears in her spine. Such conduct by police officials is absolutely outrageous and cannot go unpunished!

It is shocking that she has been subjected to all this after she was taken from the Saket Court in Delhi on assurances that there would be no physical or mental torture, and that all investigations would be conducted as per the law.

In the strongest words, we demand that the state government of Chattisgarh:

  • Immediately initiate punitive action against all concerned officials who authorised her to be flown to Raipur from Delhi and created the circumstances where she could be tortured in police custody before being produced in the Dantewada District Court.
  • Initiate punitive action against SP Ankit Garg and all other police officials involved in her custodial torture, as well as medical officials who falsified her medical records claiming she was fine.
  • Stop contesting Soni’s demand to face trial outside Chhattisgarh because clearly she is absolutely unsafe in the state!

If the Government of Chattisgarh fails to take proper action to safeguard the legal rights and dignity of an undertrial, it is clear that it has no moral authority to continue in office.

Signed by the following organisations / networks and individuals:

ORGANISATIONS/NETWORKS

- Vani, Sadhna, Kalpana, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Delhi
- Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression
- MP Mahila Manch
- Delhi Forum, Delhi
- Madhavi Krishnawamy, Jan Sangharsh Morcha, MP
- Programme for Social Action, Delhi
- Delhi Solidarity Group
- Rituparna Borah, Nirantar, Delhi
- Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA
- Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad
- Indira Pancholi, Mahila Jan Adhikar Samiti, Rajasthan
- Humane Trust, Koraput
- Siddarth Vatysayan, AAG India, Delhi
- Rakhi Sehgal, NTUI, Delhi
- Ammu Abraham, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Mumbai
- Meena Seshu, SANGRAM/VAMP, Sangli
- Madhu Mehra, Partners in Law for Development
- Mary E John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, Delhi
- Action India, Delhi
- Saumya Uma, Women’s Research and Action Group, Mumbai
- Nandita Shah, Akshara, Mumbai
- Rachana Atri, India Social Institute, Delhi
- Pyoli Swatija, Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha
- Chayanika, Lesbian and Bisexuals in Action
- Nidhi Agarwal, Him Dhara, Palampur, HP
- Manisha Sethi, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association
- Anurag Modi, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan
- Shamim Modi, Samajwadi Jan Parishad
- Sylvie Palit, Narmada Bachao Andolan
- Anuradha Talwar, Shramajivi Mahila Samity (West Bengal)
- Dipika Nath, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Rights Programme, Human Rights Watch
- Vimochana, Begaluru

INDIVIDUALS

Prof. Uma Chakravarti
- Prof. Nandini Sundar
- Vasant Kannabiran, Hyderabad
- Mamta Dash
- Maya Rao
- Geetha Nambisan
- Anomita Goswami
- Sahana Basavapatna
- Kamayani Bali Mahibal
- Kiran Shaheen
- Purnima
- Shalini Gera, student
- Harshita Yalamarty, Student, JNU
- Bela Bhatia
- Rajshri Dasgupta, Kolkata
- Leena Ganesh
- Nalini Visvanathan
- Sharamya Nayak, Koraput
- Pushpa Achanta, Bangalore
- Rashmi Singh
- Anandi S, Chennai
- Dunu Roy
- Ponni Arasu
- Srila Roy
- Bishakha Dutta
- Anna George
- Pramada Menon
- Dilip Simeon
- Veena Gowda
- Ranjana Padhi
- Kalpana Kannabiran
- Laxmi Murthy
- Uma Chandru
- Sandhya Srinivasan
- Veena Shatrugna
- Shobha SV
- Mukul Mangalik, Associate Professor, Ramjas College, University of Delhi
- Shahana Bhattacharya, Associate Professor, Kirorimal College, University of Delhi
- Teena Gill
- Subhalakshmi Nandi
- Shilpa Phadke
- Anusha Hariharan
- Neelima Aryan
- Shipra Nigam
- Ann Ninan, Journalist, Delhi
- Prof Sadhna Saxena, Delhi University
- Vijay Dhasama
- Kriti Budhiraja
- Lakshmi Premkumar, Researcher, Delhi
- Aryakrishnan Ramakrishnan, Thiruvananthapuram
- Sudha Bharadwaj
- Purwa Bharadwaj, Delhi
- Kalyani Menon-Sen, Gurgaon
- Rajesh Srinivas
- Janaki Abraham