Police burn effigies, then file false FIRs: Nandini Sundar on murder charges

NEW DELHI: Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar today strongly rubbished allegations of Chhattisgarh Police linking her to the murder of a tribal villager in Maoist-hit Bastar while a number of civil rights bodies called the charges a tactic of “revenge and harassment”. Reacting strongly, she said it was a clear case of being “framed” and that police have been forcing some people in Bastar to name her and others in someway.

Sundar, a professor of Sociology department of Delhi University, also accused IGP (Bastar Range) S R P Kalluri of forcing the wife of deceased villager Shamnath Baghel, to file a complaint against her, claiming the top police official was specifically targetting the activists. “The FIR is patently absurd. We condemn the killing of Shamnath Baghel and reiterate that it has nothing to do with us. This is clearly part of IG 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. that are going on in Bastar,” she claimed.

“In particular, this is a direct fallout of the CBI charge sheet of special police officers turned constables for arson in Tadmetla in 2011, an operation which Kalluri directed. First our effigies were burnt by the police and now a false FIR is being filed against us,” Sundar told PTI from the US.She also alleged that police have been forcing some people to name them in someway since May.

“They have been inciting them. My stand (on Maoist issue) has been consistent. I have been saying the same thing for last 10 years. “I have been condemning Maoists for killing informers, I have been condemning police for fake encounters. How is it likely that I will suddenly murder someone? I haven’t even been to Bastar for months,” she said. Sundar has been working extensively in Maoist-hit regions like Bastar and it was on her petition that the Supreme Court had banned the state-backed anti-Maoist force Salwa Judum, calling it unconstitutional. She has also been highlighting situation of ordinary villagers in Bastar and other areas.

She also wrote on her personal Twitter handle: “FIR against us is absurd. Clearly a fallout of CBI’s chargesheet against police for arson in 2011. Police burn effigies then file false FIRs.”

N S @nandinisundar
FIR against us is absurd. Clearly a fallout of CBI’s chargesheet against police for arson in 2011. Police burn effigies then file false FIRs
3:42 PM – 8 Nov 2016
75 75 Retweets 43 43 likes
Sundar and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Archana Prasad are among 10 people named by police in connection with the murder of Baghel based on the complaint of his wife.

Armed Naxals had allegedly killed Baghel on Friday night at his residence in Nama village. Sundar alleged that Kalluri was targeting activists as he is worried about being implicated in a case they have been fighting for years. “Will they attack all people who are critical of them? Are we living in a democracy or has the country become a banana republic where this is just one of the incident in series of attacks on activists?” asked Sundar.

Indian Peoples’ Theatre Association (IPTA), which highlights civil rights issues through plays, and Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA) issued a joint statement condemning Chhattisgarh Police for the “false charges” against the activists.

“The police had also burnt the effigies of these activists earlier when they had exposed the police atrocities, including rape, on adivasi women in Chhattisgarh. In the light of the recent CBI probe, initiated in response to a petition by Sunder, finding the police guilty of burning the adivasi villages, these charges are certainly tactics of revenge and harassment by police,” they said in a statement.

The two professors along with few others had visited Bastar in May along with Chhattisgarh State Secretary CPI-M Sanjay Parate and addressed a group of villagers.

Though the case was registered on Saturday, the matter came to light last night. Armed Naxals had allegedly killed Baghel with sharp weapons on Friday night at his residence in Nama village under Kumakoleng gram panchayat in Tongpal area, around 450 kms away from here. Baghel and some of his associates were spearheading the protest against Naxal activities in their village since April this year.

“As per the complaint lodged by the victim’s wife, her husband had been getting threats from Maoists since he and other villagers had complained against Sundar in May this year. Even armed ultras were referring to that complaint and anti-Maoist demonstrations while attacking Baghel on Friday,” the IG said.

The complaint also mentioned that during the attack on him, Maoists kept telling Baghel that he was being punished because he did not listen to Sundar and others, and continued opposing them. Baghel’s wife has sought action against Sundar and others accusing them of murdering her husband, Kalluri said.

Baghel and other villagers of the region had earlier given a complaint to Tongpal police in May this year against Sundar, Prasad, Tiwari, Parate and an unidentified woman activist from Sukma for allegedly inciting innocent tribals against the government and seeking their support for Maoists. Villagers of Nama and the neighbouring Kumakoleng village (both under Kumakoleng village panchayat) had started a self-motivated protest against Maoist activities in their villages after forming its own security group named “Tangiya (axe) group” in April this year. “Following the development, according to villagers, Sundar and others went in the village to allegedly threaten them not to oppose the Maoists,” the IG said. Sundar had gone to the village with the alias Richa Keshav, he said. A letter was then written to the Vice Chancellors of both DU and JNU informing that Bastar police was conducting an inquiry against both the professors following complaint received against them, he added.

With inputs from PTI