We had lawyers and media coverage, adivasis have nothing: Nandini Sundar

Academic-activist talks about ‘fictitious and absurd cases’ against her and others caught in the crossfire in Chhattisgarh

archana

Archana Mishra | December 2, 2016 | New Delhi


#human rights   #politics   #Maoists   #Chhattisgarh   #Nandini Sundar   #judiciary  


 Sociologists usually don’t make news, but Nandini Sundar has received a fair amount of media coverage in recent weeks for two reasons: just as her book, ‘The Burning Forest - India’s War in Bastar’ (Juggernaut), has received rave reviews, Chhattisgarh police filed a case of murder against her and others.

 
In responding to the charge, Sundar looks less at herself and more at the travails of the marginalised. “The public often comes to realise that there is a state of emergency and breakdown of law only when the state targets middle-class people. The poor have always lived in a state of emergency,” Sundar told me in an email interaction.
 
“The fictitious and absurd cases against us are no different from the false cases they have been filing against ordinary adivasis all this time. People are picked up from their homes and passed off as Maoists. The jails of Chhattisgarh are among the most overcrowded in the country. We had good lawyers and media coverage, the rest have nothing. It’s time that the public at large realised just how lawless the government of Chhattisgarh is.”
 
In her book, she has noted that Maoists and rights activists are indistinguishable for the security establishment. That possibly explains why more and more rights activists have been targeted by the state in recent times. I asked her how she reacts to such a situation.
 
“The state is targeting rights activists to escape culpability for its own crimes. We were in the middle of court hearings, with the CBI charge-sheeting the state police and Salwa Judum activists, for burning over 300 homes in three villages and attacking Swami Agnivesh.  The FIR against us was meant to divert attention from that.”
 
Sundar also presents the following sequence of events which “speaks for itself”:
 
“October 17: CBI files charge-sheet against seven SPOs for arson and 26 Salwa Judum leaders for attacking Swami Agnivesh.
 
“October 21: Court directs the CBI to give us the reports. The CBI charge-sheet becomes news in Chhattisgarh.
 
“October 23: SRP Kalluri, who was SSP Dantewada in 2011 and under whose command both the operations in the villages and the attack on Swami Agnivesh took place, holds press conference. He accuses the CBI of lying and says the houses caught fire by themselves due to crossfire. Not only does this contradict the police FIR registered in 2011 which says that the Maoists burnt houses, but is also physically impossible since the houses are far apart, and spread over different hamlets.
 
“October 24: There is a coordinated movement by former SPOs, now police constables, in seven police district HQs to burn the effigies of six people – including me, and Manish Kunjam who is also a petitioner in the case before the SC.
 
“October 26: AGNI, one of the state-sponsored goonda gangs, attacks a press conference held by Manish Kunjam.
 
“October 28: Hearing in SC where we ask for protection for Manish Kunjam. The state was ordered to provide this as far back as 2010, but they have given him a gunman without a gun.
 
“November 7: The police file a fake FIR against us. We were charged for the murder of a man whom we have never met, in an area which we visited six months before he was killed, on the supposed complaint of the wife who has said she never made any such complaint.”
 
She also notes that, “The good thing is that the opposition is now making it an issue – for a long time the Congress and BJP collaborated on running the Salwa Judum.”

Comments

 

Other News

Taming turbulence in Indian aviation

The booming Indian aviation industry, among the fastest growing sectors in the world, is projected to be valued at $40 billion by 2027. But, despite robust demand for air travel across the country, more than 50 airlines have closed down in the last decade in India and most private airlines have closed with

PM Modi leaves for G7 Summit in Italy

In his first foreign visit after taking oath of office for the third time, prime minister Narendra Modi Thursday evening left for Italy to participate in the G7 Outreach Summit. “At the invitation of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, I am travelling to Apulia region in Italy to participat

Some market talk, some gossip – learnings over tea at RBI

A Fly on the RBI Wall: An Insider’s View of the Central Bank By Alpana Killawala Rupa Publications, 248 pages, Rs 595  

Coalition politics not expected to impact India’s foreign policy

Prime minister Narendra Modi has strived incessantly to bring laurels and much needed recognition for the nation since May 2014 when he was sworn in as the head of state. The poser which can be deliberated upon is this: What will be the consequential impact of the new era of coalition politics which confro

New govt`s first decision pushes for farmer welfare

The BJP-led NDA government has started its term with its first decision relating to farmer welfare. Narendra Modi took charge of office as prime minister of India for the third time on Monday, a day after he and his colleagues were sworn in by the president of India. In his fi

Narendra Modi takes oath for third term

Narendra Modi made history Sunday evening as he was sworn in by president Droupadi Murmu for a third successive term. Modi thus becomes the first prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to have comptered two full terms and beginning a third consecutive term. In the swearing-in c

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Linkedin Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter