Soni Sori is an Adivasi leader and activist from Bastar, who was arrested in 2011 in Delhi on charges of acting as a conduit fir Maoists. During her imprisonment, she alleged that she was tortured and sexually assaulted by Chhattisgarh state police. In her letter from jail, she had accused SP Ankit Garg of sexual assaults and torture, however no actions were taken against him and in fact he was honored Gallentry award. In April 2013, the Indian Courts had acquitted her in six of the eight cases filed against her due to lack of evidence. After her release from jail Soni Sori has been very active in raising voices against police brutalities in Bastar region. Last month Soni Sori went for a foot March against the recent case of rape by Army and Policemen. Since her activities raised insecurity of the officials, there were consistent threats to harm her. The acid attack in the result of which, that also reflects State’s apathy towards Adivasis of the country.
Here are two letters written by Soni Sori from jail in between 2011-12- addressed to the Supreme Court and Nation. Original text and English translation were earlier published here.
Letter to the Supreme Court Judge and the lawyer
Upon your order, I was treated in Kolkata, which saved my life. Then why have I been sent back among the same people? I am not safe here. I’m having to battle many problems. If your court believes the charges against me, punish me. But don’t leave me among these people. Each day and each night is extremely difficult. I have great pain internally and I await your judgement. The Chhattisgarh government did not delay in bringing me to the Court. The Court in Delhi very swiftly handed me over to them. Then why this delay in your Court?
Was the abuse on me not enough? Why did you give me a new lease of life then? You should have left me to die. I live, thanks to your order, which I’ll never forget. I don’t understand why the Delhi Court doesn’t hear my cries. If they had understood my helplessness, I wouldn’t have been in this state. Despite all that, I was handed over the Chhattisgarh police. At that point, in my heart I was saying “Please don’t send me with them; what they will do with their sister/daughter, you have no idea. “ But the esteemed Court had more faith in the police than in their daughter and because of that, I have lost everything today. The Court still doesn’t understand. Anyway, today one daughter has been abused. Tomorrow it will be another.
This is a plea from a helpless daughter. Please do something otherwise they will just become stronger in the coming days. They said to me that it is the Court that has permitted us to keep you in our custody. Now which Court do I appeal in? This means, Sir Judge, that your Court handed me over to them. They can do anything. I am this country’s first daughter who they brought here with the permission of the Court and then heartlessly abused mentally and physically. Why this injustice to me? Giving electric shocks, stripping me naked, shoving stones inside me – is this going to solve the Naxal problem?
Sir Judge, my body is in great pain. If, in case, I die before you are able to pass judgment, then the Chattisgarh government and police are to be held responsible. Ever since SP Ankit Garg and other police officers did what they did to me, my body is in bad shape. I have three children. After me, there is no one to look after them. My husband has been in jail for the last year and a half in a false case. The Naxals have looted my father’s house. My children need support. My three children are going through great difficulty. They live like orphans. This is a mother’s plea for her children, Sir Judge. Sir Judge, the police is committing the crime and I am being punished.
If they had made the warrant a year and a half ago, why did they not arrest me? I went to the police station and CRP camp many times. I used to meet the police officers and the cops used come home many times. Whenever there was an administrative meeting of the Collector , or any other officer in Dantewada, I was always present. Why wasn’t I arrested then? In the Essar case also, the police made a plan to take money from them and asked me to pretend to be a Naxalite. When I refused, they said we have an arrest warrant in your name. If you do this for us, we won’t arrest you. Think about it. Sir Judge, I did not do it.
I appeal to you,
Letter to the Nation
This if for all social workers intellectuals, NGOs, human rights organisations, women’s commission and citizens of India, an abused and helpless tribal woman, is asking you to answer her why she is being brutally tortured and she wants to know–
That by giving me current, by stripping me naked, or by brutally assaulting me inserting stones in my rectum- will the problem of Naxalism end ? Why so many atrocities on women? I want to know from all countrymen
When I was being stripped, that time I felt someone should come and save me and it did not happen. In Mahabharata , Draupadi’s honour was saved when she called upon Krishna Whom should I have called , I was given to them ( police ) by the court . But now ,I will not say that save my honour as I have nothing left. Yes, I want to know from all of you that why was I Tortured?
Police officer, S. P Ankit Garg after stripping me says that “you are a whore, a bitch, who pleases naxal leaders by selling your body and they come to your house every day and night. We know everything, “he said adding that “. You claim to be a good teacher, but you sell yourself even in Delhi. What’s your status anyways, you think the big stalwarts will support such an ordinary woman like you”. Why will a police officer say this? Today history is witness that whenever there is war in country or any other conflict, women have contributed a lot to the nation. Jhansi Lakshmi Bai fought with the Britishers, did she sell herself ? Indira Gandhi as the prime minister of India , she governed the country, did she sell herself ? Today all the women who are working in their respective areas are they selling themselves ? All of us are bound with each other in unity and support, then why no one is coming to help me ? I would like to have an answer from you?
Who has made the world? Who gave birth to the powerful, intellectual fighters? If woman would not have been there, was it possible that India would have got i freedom or no? I am a woman, so why did this happen to me, answer me
My Education has been mocked at. I got my education at Gandhian school Rukmani Kanya Ashram, Dimripal. I strongly believe in the power of my education. Whether its naxal problem or any other, I can face it. Education is my tool for survival and pen is my weapon of choice . Still they have put me in jail as a naxal supporter. Mahatma Gandhi also had the same tools. If Mahatma Gandhi was alive today, then he would also have been put behind bars as a naxal supporter? I want to know from all of you
Why only the villagers, tribals are being put in jails as naxal supporters and cases have been fabricated against them? Many other people can be naxal supporters. Is it because they are illiterate, uneducated, simple people, living in huts in forests, and they have do not have money or is it because they have the capacity to tolerate torture much more? Why? I want to know from you people
We Adivasis are being abused and tortured in many ways; we are accused of being naxal supporters, cases are being fabricated against us, even for 1-2 cases people are being kept in prison for 5-6 years. Neither there is judgement, nor bail or acquittal. After all why? Is it because we adivasi people do not have the calibre to fight the government or that government is not with adivasi. Or because adiiavsis are not sons/ daughters. Relatives of big political leaders. Till when the adivasis will be exploited, till when? I am asking all citizens of India, Answer me
In jagdalpur and dantewada prisons, 16 year olds boys and girls were bought and they are now 20-21 years old. But still their cases are not being heard. If their cases will not be heard in coming days or years, then what will be their future? Why so much atrocities upon the adivasis? All social workers, intellectuals, NGOs, citizens Please think
The Naxals looted my father’s house and shot my father in the leg making him disabled. Why did they do that, they thought my father was a police informer. About 20-25 people from my father’s village bade-bidema have been put in jail as naxal supporters. The naxalites punished by Father for their imprisonment. I want to know from you, tell me who is responsible for this? Government or police or my Father? Today there is no support or help for my father; instead the police administration is trying to implicate his daughter as a criminal. If he was a politician he we would have got help but my father is a ordinary villager and an adivasi, what will the government do for the adivasis? tell me
Struggling with Torture- woman of Chhattisgarh
Soni Sori (Sodi)
3rd Feb 2012
Picture Courtesy- https://sonisori.wordpress.com/download/
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