Soni Sori Adivasi Leader Attacked

Soni Sori, the Adivasi leader and human rights defender from Bastar was attacked by few men in Geedam as she was travelling back to her village from Jagdalpur after discussions with her legal team. A blackish chemical substance was thrown on her face which has since been causing intense burning and pain. She was first hospitalised at Geedam and then moved to Jagdalpur. The attack took place late in the night on Saturday, February 20. She had expressed fears of an attack due to open threats being made against her by the police. These police threats have intensified over past mon ths since Soni Sori has been leading campaigns and demonstrations against the atrocities committed by the police against Adivasis. The most recent threat also involved documentation related to the house she lived in.

On December 18,2015, Sabrangindia had carried a detailed interview of Soni Sori conducted for us by Isha Khandelwal:

We appeal to our readers to contact the authorities to ensure that the administration takes effective steps to ensure her safety.
Dantewada SP – 07856 – 252224; 9479194300
Dantewada DM – 07856-252455; 7587700111; 9479194313/07856 244437 –
Amit Kataria , Bastar collector, 094 25 580306
RN Dash, SP, Bastar, +91 94 79 194003

Update from Shalini Gera of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG):

Spoke with Soni –

1. Her face is swelling up now, and she is still in pain and unable to open her eyes because of the swelling etc.  Her voice is also very muffled.

2. The Maharani District Hospital in Jagdalpur has been converted into a "catonment" – according to the Hindi daily Patrika. Apparently, 150 security men are now guarding the hospital.  No one is being allowed to meet Soni – even her close AAP party colleagues are being kept out and she is very upset about it. Why is it that when we were asking for her security, fearing an imminent attack – nothing was done and even the phone calls not answered, but now **after** the attack – all the force has been deployed to keep her support group out in the name of "security?"

3. Her police statement has not been taken yet, she says, which means that an FIR must not have been filed yet? Some tehsildar came to take her statement, but she is not happy about that since she could not open her eyes to read what he has written, and doesn't trust him to have written it down correctly.

4. She says that when the attackers attacked her, they told her to "stop complaining against the IG, stop raising the issue of Mardum, and if you don't behave yourself, we will do this to your daughter as well."  Please remember that she has been trying to register an FIR against the IG of Bastar Range, SRP Kalluri, under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, but has been unsuccessful so far.

Also, Soni has been raising the issue of the fake encounter in Mardum thana in Bastar district, in which Hidma was killed. While the police claim that Hidma was a high-ranking Naxalite ("1 lakh ka inami naxali") whom they killed after a fierce encounter in the jungles, the entire village claims that Hidma was an ordinary villager, who was picked up at night from his house. Not only did he have a voter id, a bank account in his name, he had also been allotted the Indira Awas. Clearly not a Naxal living in the jungles.  Also, his wife and elder daughter are eyewitnesses to the fact that police came late at night to pick him up, and the wife even recalls the name of the police officer who had come to the house.  Soni had taken these villagers for a press conference in Raipur, and has been trying to register an FIR in this case as well.  The earlier information that we had which hinted that an attack on Soni was impending also linked this attack to the Mardum thana.

So, it is important that groups which are publicly raising the issue of the attack on Soni, also raise the issue of the fake encounter in Mardum, and also point out that this was a planned attack, not an "accident".  Will try to dig up paper cuttings of the mardum incident and send them across (or maybe others can do it).

5. The same Bastar police force which is accused in the Mardum encounter is now providing her "security" in Jagdalpur. We should ask for her immediate referral to a Raipur hospital.





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