Saturday, November 26, 2016

NHRC summons the Chief Secretary of Government of Chhattisgarh and IGP, Bastar to explain the allegations of hostility and abuse of power against Human Rights Defenders (17.11.2016)


New Delhi, 17th November, 2016

The National Human Rights Commission has noted and taken suo motu cognizance of "the nationwide outcry and protest on IG of Bastar Range Shri S.R.P. Kalluri for registering FIR No.27/2016 P.S. Tongpal dated 5.11.2016 against Delhi University Professor Archana Prasad, JNU Prof. Nandini Sundar, Vineet Tiwari, Sanjay Parate of CPI(M) and Manju Kawasi for offences of murder, criminal trespass, conspiracy and for offences under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. It has been alleged that she and Prof. Nandini Sundar and other associate professors are being threatened by Bastar Police for arresting these activists in the said FIR.

The reports in press and media over last week have alleged that Chhattisgarh Police has named Prof. Nandini Sundar and ten others as accused in the murder of a tribal Mr. Samnath Baghel in Sukma District on 4.11.2016. It is reported that he was killed by Maoists as he had been leading a campaign against Maoists activities since April, 2016. It has been alleged that these professors had visited Bastar in May, 2016, while this murder has taken place in November, 2016. There is no apparent connection between murder and visit of these human rights activists and, therefore, it has been alleged that they have been framed in mala fide manner by police to settle scores. It has been stated that FIR has been registered in the name of the wife of killed Baghel.

The Commission also takes Judicial Notice of Petition filed by Prof. Nandini Sundar recently in Hon'ble Supreme Court against atrocities by Bastar Police against tribal people by burning of their homes. The Hon'ble Supreme Court ordered investigation by CBI. The CBI found S.R.P. Kalluri, IG of Police, Bastar Range responsible for the burning of homes. She has also earlier filed a petition in Supreme Court in Salwa Judum case in 2007 against atrocities by police in the tribal areas. She with other lawyers and journalists has in the past brought to the notice of the Commission mass rape of women, murders and other crimes by security officers under the umbrella of police. The Commission is separately examining those complaints and has sought comments from the State of Chhattisgarh on the findings submitted to the Commission by its team after visiting Chhattisgarh.

The Commission also took suo motu cognizance this month against the unprecedented acts of hostility and indiscipline by Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Police in burning the effigies of Prof. Nandini Sundar and other lawyers and journalists as they were instrumental in exposing the deeds of police. 

The Commission on consideration of the whole situation obtaining in Chhattisgarh over more than a year views the action of registration of FIR against Prof. Nandini Sundar and others as an act in line with earlier acts of hostility displayed by police.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Bastar villagers reject police claim

Court Order: CG Government loses face in fake FIR case

On November 15, 2016, the Supreme Court recorded the State's admission that they have no case against us:

UPON hearing the counsel the Court made the following ORDE R

Learned Additional Solicitor General says that the following persons will neither be arrested nor investigations conducted against them pursuant to the FIR registered at Tongpal Police Station on 4th November, 2016:
  1. (i)  Nandini Sundar
  2. (ii)  Archana Prasad
  3. (iii)  Vineet Tiwari
  4. (iv)  Sanjay Parate
  5. (v)  Manju (Sarpanch, Gram Panchayat, Gufdi)
  6. (vi)  Mangalram Karma
In case, there is an intention to carry out investigation in respect of these six persons in future, at least four weeks notice will be given to them.
Liberty is granted to the above-mentioned persons to approach this Court. 

So much for Mr. Kalluri's grand dreams of locking us all up, claiming he had strong evidence and what not. 
Thanks to my wonderful lawyers, Nitya Ramakrishnan, Rahul Kripalani and Ashok Desai - I lost no sleep at all.
All this was an effort by the Chhattisgarh police and government to deflect attention from the Tadmetla case where the CBI has charged the police with arson.. rapes and murder investigation still ongoing.
But thanks to friends and others who I don't know but who have been wonderfully supportive, this has backfired on Kalluri and the government. Many people have signed petitions, expressed solidarity etc. I am sure together we will ultimately win and ensure justice for everyone in Bastar.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


A first information report has been registered against six of us (and assorted others) for the murder of a villager called Shamnath Baghel on November 4th, ostensibly on the complaint of his wife. The charges are serious and include murder, rioting, possession of arms, and unlawful activities (UAPA).

This FIR comes in close succession to a series of incidents implicating the police.

In 2011, the police had gone on combing operations in which they burnt 300 homes in the villages of Tadmetla, Timapuram and Morpalli. 3 women were raped and 3 men were killed. The Salwa Judum leaders, a vigilante group supported by the police also attacked Swami Agnivesh, a well known human rights activist and religious leader. In July 2011, the Supreme Court ordered a CBI enquiry as part of the petition filed by Nandini Sundar, Manish Kunjam and ors.

On 17 October 2016, the CBI chargesheeted 7 SPOs for arson and 26 Salwa Judum leaders for the attack on Swami Agnivesh.

On 23 October 2016, IG Bastar Kalluri took responsibility for directing the operations, claimed the CBI was lying and accused Nandini Sundar of bribing villagers to depose.

On 24 October 2016, the former Special Police Officers turned armed auxiliary forces/constables burnt effigies of activists

On 26 October 2016, AGNI, a state sponsored vigilante group and RSS activists attacked a press conference by Manish Kunjam, President of the Adivasi Mahasabha, and one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court case which resulted in the CBI chargesheet against SPOs. The CPI office in Jagdalpur was vandalized.

On November 7 2016, the Bastar police led by Mr. Kalluri framed a false FIR against Nandini Sundar, Archana Prasad and others for the murder of Shamnath Baghel by Maoists on November 4th.  

The background to this: A group of us had gone on a visit to Bastar in May 2016. In a group of villages we visited (Nama, Soutnar, Kumakoleng)  the villagers had formed an anti-Maoist patrol gang, which they called the ‘tangiya gang’ with support from the police. 

The police got a fake complaint filed against us (ostensibly in the name of villagers) saying we incited the villagers against police and in favour of the Maoists. Indian Express had also done a story quotingthe villagers saying they had not filed any complaint. 

Our press release, as well as articles in EPW and Times of India show that we had done no such thing as inciting villagers or threatening to burn their houses. Instead we faithfully reported the villagers dilemma caught between the police and Maoists, and stressed the need for peace talks. 

On Nov 4, the Maoists killed the leader of this anti-Maoist gang. We are being charged with his murder, ostensibly on the complaint of his wife, Vimla. On November 11, the wife says on camera that she never named anyone, exposing the police lies. She has since been given a job in the police. 

The police are also claiming that Nandini Sundar had malafide intent because I used a false name, Richa Keshav, on that visit. However, this was only used once, and for the safety of the team. I have had a long history of persecution by the Chhattisgarh police.

The people being charged:  

Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi University (author of The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar, Juggernaut Press 2016, also lead petitioner in the case in which the Supreme Court banned Salwa Judum in 2011, Nandini Sundar & Ors. vs. State of Chhattisgarh)

Archana Prasad, Professor, Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies, JNU (author of Environmentalism and the Left, Leftword 2004), also member of AIDWA, CPM’s women wing)

Vineet Tiwari, former journalist and currently at the Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies, also member of the CPI

Sanjay Parate, State Secretary of the CPM, Chhattisgarh

Manju Kawasi, Sarpanch of Guphidi village, CPI activist, Sukma District, Chhattisgarh

Mangalram Karma, former resident of Nama, now working as a carpenter elsewhere.

plus assorted Maoists.