Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar on Tuesday 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 has been forcing some people in Bastar to name her and others in someway.
Sundar, a professor of Sociology department of Delhi University, also accused Inspector General of Police (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 targeting 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 (Central Bureau of Investigation) 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 said from the United States.
She also alleged that police has 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.
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, which highlights civil rights issues through plays, and Progressive Writers’ Association 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 of the Communist Party of India-Marxist Sanjay Parate and addressed a group of villagers.