Association for India’s Development Johns Hopkins University chapter volunteer Nirvan Sengupta performing a Rap in Support of Soni Sori on March 08, 2013 at Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus on Gilman Quad.
Who is Soni Sori ?
Soni Sori is an adivasi school teacher and the warden of a government-run school for tribal children in Jabeli,Dantewada. In this war-torn district of Chhattisgarh, this was one of the few schools still operational in the countryside, till the Chhattisgarh police forced her to flee from Dantewada in early September 2011.
Soni Sori was arrested in Delhi on October 4th 2011, before she could initiate legal action. Fearing vengeance from the police, whose workings she had exposed before the media in Delhi, she pleaded with the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Saket District Court, and the Delhi High Court for permission to stay in Delhi for an additional few days till she could file her petition in the Supreme Court.
Evidence in cases of custodial torture is extremely rare to come by, since torture is usually inflicted in circumstances fully controlled by the perpetrator, i.e. the police. However, this is one of the rare cases, where there is incontrovertible proof that the victim was subjected to the most inhuman forms of torture.
· Custodial torture first came to light when Soni Sori had to be produced in front of the Dantewada Magistrate the end of two days of police custody. Soni, who had been in perfect health on the 8th of October, when she was remanded to police custody, was in such a bad condition on the 10th of October, that she could not get down from the police van and go to the courtroom; her statement was taken by a court babu, and the Magistrate, in a clear travesty of justice, passed an order without even seeing her. The police claimed ‘she slipped in the bathroom and had hurt her head’. The examining doctor at the District Hospital said ‘she was brought in unconscious, the X-ray showed injuries on her head and back, and black marks were observed on her fingertips’ – indicating she had received electric shocks. A video clipping of her, writhing in pain in the hospital, confirmed fears of custodial torture.
The trial court in Dantewada has already acquitted Soni Sori from five out of eight cases registered against her by the police. But recently Chhattisgarh high court rejected bail on a case. She has been acquitted in 7 of the 8 cases