Statement on the arrest and custodial torture of Soni Sori

October 11, 2011

Soni Sori tortured in the custody of Chhattisgarh police and not produced in court today
– Injured and admitted in the District Hospital in Dantewada

[Sanhati endorses the following statement. – Ed]

On Wednesday 5th October 2011, Soni Sori was arrested from Delhi in a joint operation of the Crime Branch and the Chhattisgarh Police. The Chhattisgarh police had labeled her as a ‘Maoist on the run’ and had mounted a huge search operation to arrest her.

Fearing for her life, Soni had run away from Chhattisgarh after an attack on her life and arrived in Delhi to consult with her lawyers to seek anticipatory bail against a host of fake cases filed against her.

After her arrest, when Soni was produced in front of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) at a District Court in Delhi, she together with her lawyers requested the court to grant her bail and failing which to be held in custody in Delhi and face all investigations here. She pleaded that she should not be sent back as she fears that the Chhattisgarh police will kill her. Her plea was rejected and on Friday she was handed over to the Chhattisgarh police, the very same people who are a threat to her life. Claiming they need three days transit remand, the Chhattisgarh police however flew her to Raipur on Friday evening itself!

Today on the 10th of October, 2011, we have learnt that Soni Sori could not be produced in the Court in Chhattisgarh as she was admitted with injuries in the District Hospital of Dantewada. The police claim that ‘she slipped in the bathroom and has hurt her head’. We have been informed that she has injuries on the head and on the back. According to a Times of India report, the doctor who is treating her said that she was unconscious when she was brought in this morning and the x-ray has confirmed that she has contusions on the right side of her head in the occipito pareital region and also has tenderness in the lumbar region of the back. See this video clipping which shows her in the X-Ray room writhing and howling in pain, confirming severe custodial torture.

It is clear that despite the rights of the accused enshrined in the Constitution and Delhi High Court orders of the 7th of October for protection and safety of Soni Sori, all directives have been openly and blatantly violated by the Chhattisgarh police.

In the strongest words, we demand that:

– she is immediately rescued from the hands of the Chhattisgarh police
– she is immediately examined by an independent medical team and the report of her injuries is made public.
– and that the police personnel who have tortured Soni Sori are immediately suspended and a high level enquiry is ordered.

We urge the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women to immediately intervene in the matter, so justice does not yet again elude people like Soni Sori.

Date: 10.10.2011

Vani and Deepti, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, New Delhi
Kavita Srivastava, PUCL, Rajasthan

Click here to see the video clipping of Soni Sori