Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, who has been booked along with Maoists on charges of murder of a tribal villager in insurgency-hit Sukma district, said on Tuesday the FIR against her was “patently absurd”.
Armed Maoists allegedly killed Shamnath Baghel with sharp weapons on Friday night at his residence in Nama village, around 450km away from Raipur. In her complaint, Baghel’s wife mentioned that he was getting threats from Maoists after he and other villagers complained against Sundar in May this year.
“How can we be charged with murder and rioting when we are not even there? This is clearly part of IG (SRP) Kalluri’s attempt to intimidate and harass journalists, lawyers, researchers, political leaders and human rights activists who have exposed the reign of fake encounters, gang rapes etc,” Sundar said.
Kalluri has been in the news for what rights activists describe as his high-handed style in tackling Maoists in the region. He has had several much-publicised run-ins with journalists and is said to have been instrumental in the detention of many of them.
Police in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar have said they are getting ready to take “strict action” against Sundar and others booked in the case.
“The family of Sham Nath Baghel is in grief and hence we will take their statements in next few days. We have enough evidences and documents and we will produce them (Sundar and others) in court to ensure that strict action is taken against them,” Kalluri, the controversial inspector general of police of Bastar, told HT on Tuesday.
Kalluri said Sundar, who visited the region in May, was booked with nine others on the complaint of Baghel’s wife.
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.
“…this is a direct fall out of the CBI chargesheet of special police officers turned constables for arson in Tadmetla in 2011, an operation which Mr Kalluri directed. I condemn the killing of Shamnath Baghel and reiterate that it has nothing to do with us,” Sundar said.