Despite repeated pleas, Soni Sori’s case is yet to come up for hearing in the Supreme Court
Seven months since TEHELKA first reported on the hunt for Soni Sori (They dared to speak up. But that’s not done in Dantewada by Tusha Mittal, 13 September 2011), a nationwide human rights campaign is underway to protest her wrongful arrest and shocking treatment. Sori is an innocent tribal schoolteacher from Chhattisgarh who has been accused of channelling funds from a corporate group to the banned CPI(Maoist) (The Inconvenient Truth of Soni Sori by Shoma Chaudhury, 15 October 2011). In a sting operation, TEHELKA recorded a Chhattisgarh Police officer admitting on camera that she had been framed.
Since her arrest last October, Sori has alleged that she was brutally beaten, sexually assaulted and administered electric shocks in custody. The police officer she accuses was given a gallantry award on Republic Day. Earlier, her ageing father was shot in the leg by Maoists, while her husband was arrested for being an alleged Maoist.
Six months on, a PIL filed on her behalf is yet to be heard in the Supreme Court. Last October, an independent medical examination ordered by the apex court discovered stones from Sori’s vagina and rectum (Shockingly, Soni Sori has been sexually tortured with stones. Who will answer for this? by Tusha Mittal, 24 December 2011). This report was discussed in the court on 2 December. Shockingly, the court allowed the Chhattisgarh government more than a month to respond. The next hearing was scheduled for 25 January. Sori’s case was listed as item 14. But it never came up.
Alerting the court of her worsening medical condition, Sori’s lawyers filed two separate appeals for an urgent hearing. They received no response. The case was rescheduled for 2 February, but wasn’t heard again. Since then, Sori’s case has been listed for hearing thrice a week in the court of Justice Altamas Kabir.
Meanwhile, the campaign for justice has gathered new steam. “Until Soni Sori is released, we will protest every week,” says Kamayani Bali Mahabal, a lawyer and activist based in Mumbai. “Several women’s groups in Mumbai will protest every Monday until the Supreme Court hears the case, orders medical treatment in a hospital outside Chhattisgarh, and delivers justice.”