Citizens appeal to PM: Save Soni Sori from death in jail

April 30, 2012

Press Release by IADHRI

In an open letter addressed to the Prime Minister of India and other officials, more than 250 concerned activists, academics, intellectuals, students, professionals and democratic organisations have demanded immediate medical attention for the Adivasi school teacher, Soni Sori, 35, currently in custody in Raipur Central Jail, Chhattisgarh. Sori’s condition is believed to be rapidly deteriorating as a result of torture and sexual abuse at the hands of the Chhattisgarh police. She is the mother of three young children. Signatories to the letter include members of the National Advisory Council Harsh Mander and Aruna Roy, writers Arundhati Roy and Meena Kandasamy, respected economist Jean Dreze, Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan and renowned intellectual Noam Chomsky.

Soni Sori was arrested in Delhi on 4th October, 2011, where she had gone to seek legal assistance, fearing for her life after repeated harassment by the Chhattisgarh state police. Despite her pleas in the courts that she be held in Delhi, she was sent back to Chhattisgarh. After seeing preliminary indications that she had been tortured in police custody, the Supreme Court ordered an independent medical examination at NRS Medical College, Kolkata, where doctors found stones lodged in her vagina and rectum. In a series of letters written to the Supreme Court Advocate from jail, Sori recounted how she was stripped, electrocuted, and physically and sexually tortured by the police.

More than six months after she was tortured, Sori continues to be imprisoned in Chhattisgarh and has received virtually no follow up medical treatment for the injuries she sustained in police custody and the infections that have developed as a consequence. According to two people (one of whom is her lawyer) who were allowed to meet Sori in prison last week, her face was visibly swollen and her hands and feet appeared abnormally thin, indicating severe weight loss. Sori complained of a severe burning sensation while passing urine and of blisters on her thighs and her private parts. The magistrate in the Dantewada court, where Sori was produced earlier in the week, is reported to have remarked that she appeared unwell. According to the jail doctor in Raipur, Sori suffers from fluctuating and high blood pressure and from anaemia. Yet, on those occasions when she has been taken to the Raipur Medical College, she met with ridicule, indifference and inadequate care from the doctors and other hospital personnel. Police interference with the doctors is also suspected.

No investigation or action has been initiated against the police officers responsible for her torture. On the contrary, Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg, named in Sori’s letters, was awarded a Gallantry Medal on Republic Day, 2012. Sori’s petition before the Supreme Court asking to be transferred out of Chhattisgarh has been subjected to repeated delays and is still pending. Her health continues to deteriorate in the meantime.

Sori is just one of many women subject to torture and sexual violence in custody. In a recent report, the Asian Centre for Human Rights documented that four custodial deaths had occurred daily in India over the past decade. Those demanding medical attention for Sori fear the worst by the time she is granted a final hearing.

Open Letter

To,

Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

Shri Raman Singh, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned by the rapidly worsening health of Soni Sori in Raipur Central Jail. She has been passing blood with her urine, is having difficulty to sit or get up, and has lost considerable weight. Despite doctors from NRS Medical Hospital having confirmed that stones had been inserted into her vagina and rectum, Soni Sori has received no proper medical attention.We fear for Soni’s life and are outraged and ashamed at this inhuman treatment of a woman in India.

Soni Sori, 35, is an adivasi school teacher from Dantewada who was arrested in New Delhi on Oct 4 2011. Six months have passed since Soni was tortured physically and sexually but neither the state nor the central government has investigated the abuse. Her case has been repeatedly listed up in the Supreme Court but has been postponed every time. Throughout the duration of Soni Sori’s imprisonment, the state has also tried to stifle her communications with the civil society. In January this year, a team from various women’s groups across the country went to Raipur Jail to meet Soni, but they were prevented from doing so by the administration.

The brutal treatment meted out to Soni Sori, and the prevailing situation of conflict and repression in Chhattisgarh, cause us grave concern about Soni in particular, and the situation of women prisoners, in general. We demand immediate access for fact-finding groups to meet with Soni Sori and others to assess their condition in jail, particularly their medical situation. We fear that Soni Sori’s condition is rapidly deteriorating, and demand that she receive immediate medical attention.

Signed,

(Complete list at iadhri.wordpress.com)

Harsh Mander
Meena Kandaswamy, Poet, Writer, Activist
Prof. Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus, MIT
Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, Supreme Court of India
Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker
Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)
Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)
Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)
Dr. Deepankar Basu, Prof of Economic, UMass Amherst
Dr. Prithvi R Sharma, MD
Jean Dreze, Allahabad University
Uma Chakravarti, Retd Professor, Delhi University
Anand Chakravarti, Retd Professor, Delhi University
Arundhati Roy, Writer & Social Activist
Mohan Rao, Professor, JNU, Delhi
Dr. Abha Sur, Women Studies, MIT
Hiren Gandhi, Darshan, Amhedabad
Dr. Saroop Dhruv, Darshan, Amhedabad
Dr. Suvrat Raju, Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad
Manasi Pingle, Film Maker
Admiral L Ramdas, Former Chief of Naval Staff, Alibag
Lalita Ramdas, Alibag
Prof. K.N. Panikkar
Dr. KS Sripada Raju
Dr. Jonathan E Fine, M.D, Founder Physicians for Human Rights
Santosh Rohit, Graduate Student, Univ. of Buffalo
Dr. KS Sripada Raju
Shrikumar Poddar
Mayurika Poddar
Soundarya Iyer, PhD student, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore
Prof. Ved Vatuk
Nurul Kabir
Karthik Sekhar, PhD student, MIT
Priyanka Srivastava
Ananyo Maitra
Srihari Murali, Indian Institute of Science
Dr. Joyoni Dey, Professor, UMass Medical School
Dr. Amit Basole, Asst. Prof., Bucknell Univ
Dr. Veena Poonacha, Director, Research Center for Women’s Studies, SNDT Women’s University, Maharastra
Dr. Jinee Lokaneeta, Prof. Drew Univ, NJ: Author of Transnational Torture, Law, Violence, and State Power in the United States and India, NYU Press
Arati Chokshi, Secretary, PUCL- Karnataka
Himadri Sekhar, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi
Jyoti Punwani, Journalist, Mumbai
Rajasekhar Jammalamadaka
Aashish Sangoi
Parvathy Prem, Graduate student, University of Texas at Austin
Vishal Kudchadkar, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
Snehal Shingavi, Assistant Professor, English, University of Texas at Austin
Sucharit Katyal, Graduate student, University of Texas at Austin
Neetu Jain, Association for India’s Development, Austin
Shikha Gupta, Association for India’s Development, Austin
Anand Surada, Association for India’s Development, Austin
Sivasankari Krishnanji, Association for India’s Development, Dallas
Yatin Phatak, Association for India’s Development, Dallas
Kirankumar Vissa, Hyderabad, India
Sukla Sen
Priti Turakhia Mumbai, India
Indira Chakravarthi
Reva Yunus
Sridhar Seshan
Kashif-ul-Huda, Editor, TwoCircles.net
Shalini Gera, Delhi, India
Asha Kilaru, Independent Public Health Researcher, Jan Aroghya Andolaan – Karnataka
Pranesh Prakash
Dr. Garga Chatterjee, Researcher, MIT
Daniel Mazgaonkar, Mumbai
Rohini Hensman, Mumbai
Reena Mary George, University of Vienna, Austria
Renu Pariyadath, University of Iowa, Iowa
Chirag Bhangale
Himanshu Kumar
Dr. Margaret McFadden, Prof Emerita, Women’s Studies, Living/Learning Academic Center, Appalachian State Univ, NC
K.J.Mukherjee, Professor, JNU, Delhi
Yasmin Saikia Hardt-Nickachos, Chair in Peace Studies, Professor of History, Arizona State University
Dr. Vandana Prasad
Piya Chatterjee Associate Professor, Department of Women’s Studies, University of California at Riverside
Uma Chandru, Member, PUCL-Bangalore & WSS
Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Documentary Filmmaker/Lecturer, AfroLez® Productions
Jane Ward, Associate Professor, Department of Women’s Studies, University of California, Riverside
Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Delhi
Satyen K. Bordoloi, Journalist, Film Critic, Mumbai
Madhuri Krishnaswamy, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, M.P.
Gowru Chinnapa
Navaneetha Mokkil, Assistant Professor, Central University of Gujarat
Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Badwani, MP
Kavita Srivastava, PUCL National Secretary
Pushkar Raj, General Secretary, PUCL
Mahipal Singh, National Secretary PUCL
Radha Kant Saxena, Vice President, PUCL, Rajasthan
Prem Krishna Sharma, President, PUCL, Rajasthan
Nishat Hussein, V.P President, PUCL Rajasthan
Mamta Jaitly, Vividha Mahila Alekhan evam Sandharbh kendra,
Renuka Pamecha, WRG, Jaipur
Indu Krishnan, Independent Documentary Film Maker
Debo Prosad Roy Choudhury, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR)
Leni Chaudhuri, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Mumbai.
Reena Mary George, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Katyayani Poet, activist, Chairperson of Janchetna
Shivarth Pandey, Disha Students Organisation
Abhinav, Disha Student Organisation
Sukhwinder Editor, Mazdoor Bigul & Pratibadh (Punjabi journal)
Sandeep Samwad, Journalist & Activist
Tapish Maindola, Textile Workers Union, Gorakhpur
Rajwinder, Karkhana Mazdoor Union, Ludhiana
Ajay Swami, Delhi Metro Kamgar Union
Lakhwinder, Editor, Lalkar, Punjab
Meenakshy, Arvind Memorial Trust
Kalpana Karunakaran, Assistant Prof., IIT Madras
Madhusree Mukherjee, Writer
Abha Bhaiya, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Dr Debabrata Roy, Laifungbam President, Elders’ Council, Centre for Organisation Research and Education, Manipu
Shankar Gopalakrishnan, Campaign for Survival and Dignity
Janet Chawla
Pushpa Achanta Member, WSS-Karnataka
Gracy Andrew, Country Manager, CorStone, www.corstone.org
Ramneek Singh, Playwright, Bangalore
Amar Jesani, Editor, Indian Journal of Medical Ethics
Dr. Anand Philip, Medico Friend Circle
Pushpa Achanta, WSS, Bangalore
Nisha Biswas, Kolkata
Ritika Shrimali, York University, Canada
Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre
Janaki Nair, Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU
Mohan Rao, Professor, JNU
Vinod Raina
Nalini Visvanathan
Tithi Nandy, HEALTHWATCH Forum, UP
Jasodhara Dasgupta, National Alliance on Maternal Health and Human Rights
Siddhartha Sharma, ISI, Kolkata
Kirity Roy, MAUSUM; Programme Against Custodial Torture and Impunity
Mohit Jaiswal
Devra Weber, Associate Professor, UC Riverside
Kiran Uppalapati, Charlotte, NC
Chandni Sheth
Dr. Anish Mokashi, Independent Researcher, Coimbatore
Junuka Deshpande, Artist and filmmaker, Coimbatore
Dr. Smita Mukherjee, University of Pittsburgh Medical School, Pittsburgh
Shalini Bhutani, Legal Researcher, New Delhi
Joanna Levitt, Director, International Accountability Project, California
Dr. Reety Arora, Association for India’s Development, Pittsburgh
Rounak Narvekar, Association for India’s Development, Pittsburgh
Prerna Grover, Graduate student, University of Pittsburgh
Madhav Sankunny, Graduate student, University of Pittsburgh
Chris Mason, Amnesty International Group 39, Pittsburgh
Dr. Ashwin Kumar, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
Lavanya Subramanian, Graduate student, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
Kaushik Vaidyanathan, Graduate student, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
Jordana Rosenfeld, Amnesty International Group 39, Pittsburgh
Mamata Dash, Activist and Independent Researcher
Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM
Sylvanna Falcon, Assistant Professor Latin American & Latino Studies Department, University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr Fawzia Afzal-Khan, Prof of English and Director of Gender Studies, Montclair State University, NJ
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Syracuse University
Erin Runions, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Pomona College, California
Devra Weber, Associate Professor, History, UC-Riverside
Dipti Misri, University of Colorado
Dr. Swati Dhawan
Swapna Kollu, Researcher, Boston
Rupal Oza
Komal Choksi, Psychologist, New York City
Shibani Potnis
Rucha Chitnis
Madhav Srimohan
Dr. Sanjeev Mahajan, Mountainview, CA
Tsering Dhundup, Dharamshala, India
Deeksha Bajpai Tewari, Delhi University
Sudharshana Bordoloi, York University, Canada
Ajay Panicker
SR Hiremath, Samaj Parivartan Samuday, Karnataka
Amrita Basu, Departments of Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies, Amherst College
Mahtab Alam, Civil Rights’ Activist and Journalist, Delhi
Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist, Delhi
Patricia Morton, Chair and Associate Professor of Architectural History, Univ of California, Riverside
Jaskiran K. Mathur PhD, Chairperson Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice, St. Francis College, NY
Vivek Sundara, HRA, Mumbai
Naazneen Diwan, Los Angeles
Archana A. Pathak PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University
Bettina Aptheker, Distinguished Professor, Feminist Studies Department, University of California, Santa Cruz
Dr. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor Department of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
Basuli Deb, Assistant Professor,English/Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Dr. Padma Balasubramanian
Prof. Bishnupriya Ghosh, Department of English, University of California, Santa Barbara
Deepa Rajkumar
Punita Chaudhary, Filmmaker, Mumbai
Asutosha Acharya, York University
Nishant Upadhyay, York University
Rahul Varman, IIT, Kanpur
Pradeep Esteves, Bangalore
Dr. Abhay Shukla, Pune
Priya Thangarajah
Aditi Malhotra
Pratiksha Baxi, CSLG, JNU
Sheba George, Ahmedabad
Minnie Vaid, Filmmaker and author
Rona Wilson, Secretary, Public Relations, Committee for Release of Political Prisoners
Shoma Sen, Committee Against Violence on Women
Jayasree Subramanian, TISS, Hyderabad
Vani Subramanian, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre. Delhi
Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA
Aarti Sethi, Columbia University
Patricia Morton, Chair and Associate Professor of Architectural History, UC Riverside
Soumitra Ghosh, North Bengal Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, SIliguri
Sanjay Basu Mullick, Jharkhand Jangal Bachao Andolan, Ranchi
Pushpa Toppo, Jharkhand Jangal Bachao Andolan
Madhu Mehra, New Delhi
Sushil Khanna Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta
Rajashri Dasgupta Journalist, Kolkata
Nandini Rao
Kavita Shourie Vissanji, Samskara Wellness, Mumbai
Vijayshree Danthurthi, Charlotte, NC
Nitin Sonawane
Purba Rudra, Kolkata
Balmurli Natrajan Mining Zone People’s Solidarity Group, USA
Vidya Kalaramadam, Assistant Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies, William Paterson University of New Jersey
Elizabeth Gillaspy
Nandita Ghosh
Amrita Shodhan, Teacher, London, UK
Runu Chakraborty
Christine Guzaitis Department Chair, Gender and Women’s Studies, Scripps College
Richa Nagar, Unıversıty of Mınnesota
Joe Athialy, New Delhi
Chakraverti Mahajan
Manasi Mayerkar, University of Pittsburgh
Anindya Dutta
Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere (Retd), Mysore
Rıcha Nagar, Unıversıty of Mınnesota
Pramila
Anand Sivaraman, Entrepreneur, Bangalore
Manohar Elavarthi, Praja Rajakiya Vedike, Bangalore
Neeraj Malik
Christine Guzaitis, Assistant Professor, Department Chair, Gender and Women’s Studies, Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Hardip Grewal
Christine Ward Gailey
Abha Bhaiya, Jaipur, Rajasthan
Esha Niyogi De, Lecturer, Department of English, University of California, Los Angeles
Sejal Sutaria, Assistant Professor of English, Earlham College, Indiana
Parama Roy, Professor of English, University of California, Davis
Jhuma Sen, Advocate, Supreme Court
Svati Joshi, Delhi University
Kabi Cubby Sherman, FAOW, Mumbai
Madhu Bhaduri
Asit Das
Shiraz Balsara Prabhu, Kashtakari Sanghatana
Dr. Gail Omvedt, Krantivir Babuji Patankar Sanstha
Dr. Bharat Patankar, President, Shramik Mukti Da
Archana Purushotham, Neurologist, Bangalore
Malika Virdi, Uttarakhand
Oeendrila Lahiri, JNU
Geeta Menon, Stree Jagruti Samiti, Domestic Workers Rights Union
Kumar Swamy, National Secretary, All India Christian Council
Gautam Chaudhury Kolkata
Jaya Vindhyala, Advocate, President, PUCL-AP
Paola Bacchetta, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, Univ. of California, Berkeley
Rajiv Mariwala, Bombay
Stan Swamy
Sangeeta Kamat
Richard Harkinson, London Mining Network, UK
Samantha Agarwal, Activist, New Delhi
Peter N. Jones, Bauu Institute and Press
Ranjana Padhi
Allwyn D’Silva
Harsh kapoor, SACW
Jayaprakash Rao Polsani
Amjad Ali E.M., Editor, Justicia.in
Sujata Mody
Anuradha Kapoor, Kolkata
Amitadyuti Kumar, APDR
Anurag Modi, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan
Shamim Meghani Modi, Asst. Professor, TISS, Mumbai
Aruna Burte
Bimla Chandrasekhar
Anand Pawar
Poonam Kathuria, Society for Women’s Action and Training Initiatives
Harsh Kapoor
Madhu Bhaduri, IFS and former ambassador of India
Prof Sumit Sarkar
Prof Tanika Sarkar

Organizations :

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, MIT
Association for India’s Development
Bigul Mazdoor Dasta, Delhi
Committee Against Violence on Women (CAVOW)
India Foundation Inc. of Michigan
International Alliance for Defense of Human Rights in India
Moving Republic, Bangalore
Matrika Charitable Trust
Peoples Solidarity Concerns, Bangalore
People’s Union for Civil Liberties, India
Sanhati
South Asian Alliance, UK (www.southasianalliance.org)
South Asia Solidarity Initiative
The South Asian Political Action Committee at Tufts University, MA
Vaishnava Center for Enlightenment Inc.
Vedanta Society of East Lansing, Michigan
ViBGYOR Film Collective, Thrissur
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression