CPI(ML) strongly condemns the FIR filed by the Chhattisgarh government against Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, JNU professor Archana Prasad, CPI(M) Chhattisgarh state secretary Sanjay Parate, Vineet Tiwari from Delhi’s Joshi Adhikar Sansthan and six others. This FIR, ridiculously charging Prof. Sundar and others of the murder of an adivasi villager in Bastar, is clearly an attempt to intimidate all democratic voices speaking out against the ongoing state repression in Chhattisgarh. Apart from murder, they have been charged with criminal conspiracy and rioting.
The ridiculousness of the charges are patently visible. On 4 November, Shamnath Baghel was killed at his residence in the Tongpal area in Chhattisgarh, allegedly by Maoists. According to the Chhattisgarh police and Inspector General of Police Kalluri, Baghel had been getting threats from the Maoists. Nandini Sundar, Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari, Sanjay Parate and an unidentified woman activist from Sukma have been accused of “inciting” adivasis against the government and seeking villagers support for Maoists. It is on the basis of these absurd allegations that Prof. Sundar and others are being charged and harassed.
Earlier this year, those named in the FIR were part of a fact-finding team that documented the repression in Bastar. Prof. Sundar and others have consistently been campaigning against the widespread human rights violations in Chhattisgarh. Time and again, democratic voices have exposed the blatant lies of the police and security forces. They have repeatedly brought to light the continuing impunity with which murders, rapes, fake encounters and widespread intimidation of adivasis is taking place in Bastar. It needs to be remembered that the Chhattisgarh Police was recently indicted by the CBI for not just burning 160 homes in Dantewada in 2011, but also for falsely suggesting that Maoists were responsible for the violence and damage. The current IGP Kalluri was the SSP of Dantewada in 2011 when this incident took place. Prof. Sundar, Swami Agnivesh amongst others had played a crucial role in bringing this horrific episode to light.
Clearly, the FIR now filed against Prof. Sundar and others are a punishment for their daring to expose the reality of Bastar, for daring to speak out against the ongoing brutalities unleashed by the police and security forces and supported by the Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh. Just two weeks ago, police and special auxiliary forces in Chhattisgarh burnt effigies of critics of human rights violations, including Prof. Sundar, at an official protest two weeks ago. And now this farcical FIR has been filed.
Truth is being turned on its head: those who expose murders by Chhattisgarh police and paramilitary forces are now being booked for murder. We are being asked to believe the opposite of truth. CPI(ML) demands an end to the intimidation and harassment of human rights activists, journalists and scholars exposing the reality of Bastar.