Delhi University professor and rights activist Nandini Sundar and 10 others, including a JNU teacher, have been booked for the murder of a tribal in the insurgency-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, police said Tuesday.
Armed Maoists killed Shamnath Baghel with sharp weapons late Friday at his home in Nama village in Tongpal area, around 450 kms from here, police said. Baghel and some of his associates were spearheading a protest against Maoist activities in their village since April.
On the complaint of Baghel’s wife, an FIR was lodged on Saturday against Sundar, JNU professor Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari, who is with Delhi’s Joshi Adhikar Sansthan, Chhattisgarh CPI (Marxist) secretary Sanjay Parate and Maoists, news agency PTI quoted inspector general of police (Bastar Range) SRP Kalluri as saying.
They were booked for murder, criminal conspiracy and rioting, Kalluri said, adding, “strongest possible action will be taken against those guilty after the investigation”.
Baghel and other villagers had in May lodged a complaint against Sundar and others for allegedly inciting tribals against police.
Sundar, who heads the sociology department at Delhi University, has worked extensively on Maoist insurgency, especially in the Bastar region. Her recent book, The Burning Forest: India’s war in Bastar, takes a close look at the conflict and its consequences for the area and its people.
It was on Sundar’s petition that the Supreme Court in 2011 ordered the disbanding of Salwa Judum, a state-backed militia formed to take on the Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The court said it was illegal and unconstitutional to deploy tribal youths as special police officers in Salwa Judum.
“As per the complaint lodged by the victim’s wife, her husband had been getting threats from Maoists since he and other villagers had complained against Sundar in May. Even armed ultras were referring to that complaint and anti-Maoist demonstrations while attacking Baghel on Friday,” the IG said.
Nama and villagers in the neighbouring Kumakoleng banded together as “Tangiya (axe) group” to take on the insurgents. “Following the development, according to villagers, Sundar and others went in the village to allegedly threaten them not to oppose the Maoists,” the IG said.
Sundar had gone to the village using a fake name, Richa Keshav, he said. They wrote to vice chancellors of DU and JNU informing that Bastar police was conducting an inquiry against both the professors, the IG said.
(With agency inputs)