Monthly Archives: January 2012

[Blog post] Rewarding Sexual Torture: Shame on the Indian Government (cross-posted from Cellar Door)

Cross-posted from Cellar Door

Here’s an Excerpt […]

There’s a petition to be signed. One of at least two petitions. Sign as many as you can find.

In a disgusting display of obtuseness, Vishwa Ranjan, Director-General of Police (Home Guards), has said that the “The Police Medal for Gallantry is for a specific instance … it is not like the award for Meritorious Service … Ankit Garg led one of the teams in the Mahasamund [encounter].”

With this logic, bravery medal candidates should include all perpetrators of violence and all criminals at large — just in case they have done something “courageous” in life. Sanjeev Mahajan does a nice job responding to Vishwa Ranjan and shedding light on the Mahasamund encounter.

Kamyani Bali Mahabal’s blog — Kractivist is an excellent source for current information about Soni Sori (and also other news).

According to Kractivist, the latest update on Soni Sori is as follows:

Soni Sori’s petition did not come up for hearing on Jan 25th . Despite the last order on Dec 2nd stating that it should be listed among the first three items scheduled to be heard today, it got listed as item 14. the 26th was aholiday, of course, to congratulate ourselves on the Constitution. Soni also needs urgent medical treatment for the consequences of her torture. Her lawyers presented a motion in the Supreme Court last week. They expected it to come up for hearing today. But it didn’t either. No date has been set for the next hearing. while we await justice.

Finally, I wanted to say a word about the poster that has been going around, highlighting this injustice.

A woman’s experience of sexual assault should never be turned into a logo — this is doubly true when her voice is absent from the decisions on how her story will be depicted. The red person shown is a stain on this otherwise powerful and well-deserved indictment of Ankit Garg. An unfortunate misstep of design that disrespects a sexual violence survivor’s experiences.

Another poster with Ankit Garg’s face is floating around! Glad that I can share a poster without feeling gross about it.

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[Human Rights Watch] India: Prosecute Security Forces for Torture

The failure of the Indian government to prosecute authorities responsible for torture extends to all of the security forces, Human Rights Watch said. In another recent disturbing incident, Soni Sori, a schoolteacher in Chhattisgarh state, alleged that she was tortured and sexually assaulted by Chhattisgarh state police while in custody in October 2011. After her arrest as a suspected Maoist supporter, a criminal court in Chhattisgarh state handed her over to police custody for interrogation despite her pleas that she feared for her safety and life. Sori alleges that Ankit Garg, then-superintendent of police for Dantewada district, ordered the torture and sexual assault. The Indian Supreme Court ordered Sori’s transfer to the Kolkata medical college hospital for an independent medical examination. In November 2011, the examination report corroborated Sori’s allegations of physical abuse.

To date, the Indian authorities have not initiated any inquiry or criminal action against the police officers implicated. Instead of investigating the case, on Republic Day, January 26, 2012, the president of India, Pratibha Patil, presented Ankit Garg with a police medal for gallantry. The medal drew widespread condemnation.

Read the whole report here.

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[Kashmir Watch] Awards for Alleged Killers

Two cops accused of killing of a youth in Sopore, investigation of which never reached its logical conclusion, have made it to the list of gallantry awards this Republic Day. So did the Chhattisgarh cadre police officer who allegedly supervised the torture of Soni Sori, a school teacher accused of assisting the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). Soni Sori was stripped naked, administered electric shocks and assaulted in police custody under this very officer. According to her lawyers, a medical examination found two stones in Soni’s genital tract and another in her rectum. While her legal battle goes on in court, her tormentors have been rewarded for the kind of gallantry which should hang in shame the head of any Indian who has some respect for basic civil liberties.

In conflict areas, it is already a norm that promotions and awards are doled out on the basis of number of kills and arrests, irrespective of whether the slain, detained or tortured were innocent and whether the actions were taken as prescribed by the law. The history of conflict areas – from Kashmir and north-east to the Maoist hit areas – is replete with incidents of accused men in uniform not just escaping prosecution and punishment but instead getting rewarded with honours and promotions.

Read the whole article here

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[Kracktivist] Letter to Editor – Gallantry Award to Ankit Garg from Sanjeev Mahajan

Dear Sir/Madam,

In his article on the Republic Day gallantry award given to Chhattisgarh police officer Ankit Garg who reportedly tormented, tortured and raped school teacher Soni Sori, Aman Sethi quotes Vishwa Ranjan, Director-General of Police (Home Guards), as follows:

“The Police Medal for Gallantry is for a specific instance … it is not like the award for Meritorious Service … Ankit Garg led one of the teams in the Mahasamund [encounter].” Vishwa Ranjan also added that “the Soni Sori case was a separate issue that was now sub judice.” Apart from Mr Vishwa Ranjan’s bizarre reasoning that it is legitimate to give a gallantry award to a rapist and torturer, as long as the awardee has shown his mettle in a separate incident, what is the real truth behind the Mahasamund ‘encounter’ where his supposed ‘acts of bravery’ have earned Mr Garg the award? The murky details of this ‘encounter’ were scrupulously laid out in the report Just a little collateral damage [pdf download] by an All India Fact Finding team. […]

Read the whole letter here

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[Suri’s Blog Post] Soni Sori, The Teacher, Whom We Failed

I’ve a very hazy memory of my first ever visit to a police station. But i remember one thing and that was fear, intimidation, trepidation. This despite the fact that I along with a friend of mine, had only gone to the police station to seek permission for a farewell party for our seniors and for no civil or criminal offense. This was way back in my under grad. For some reason, I was very very nervous about the entire 10 – 15 minutes ordeal, am not sure why and I never had a reason to understand why i felt the way I felt.

I can’t even begin to imagine what Soni Sori felt when we she visited the prison the first time […]

Read the rest of the post here.

[Press Statement] Women Against Sexual Violence And State Repression

[…] It is shocking to note that in spite of wide publicity and protests over SP Ankit Garg’s inhuman conduct by a large number of women’s and civil liberties groups, nationally and internationally, the government has deemed it fit to confer him with a gallantry award. It is even more baffling to note that this has occurred at a time when the Honourable Supreme Court itself has expressed anguish at the happenings and is still looking into these violations. Compounding the very serious charges of a heinous crime of sexual violence against Ms. Soni Sori that SP Ankit Garg faces, is that fact that this crime happened when she had been entrusted into his custody as a senior police officer. After the report from the Kolkata NRS Medical College and Hospital, this is no longer a case of mere allegations against the police, but there is also solid evidence by a government medical team to support her charges. However, none of this appears to have placed even a shadow of doubt on the gallantry of this Officer as far as the government is concerned. By giving an award in the face of these complaints which have not even received a cursory investigation, both the Central and State governments are condoning this sexual violence which is being perpetrated in the name of anti-Naxal operations.

It is a dark day for Indian democracy today. While Ms. Soni Sori, the victim of this heinous torture languishes in the Raipur Central Jail, with a deteriorating health condition, and waits for her case to be listed in the Supreme Court, women’s teams who have been taking up the case of her torture have been refused permission to meet her. She is still under the custody of the same state police has that inflicted this torture on her.

We are also appalled to note that a majority of “gallantry” awards this year have been given out for anti-Naxal and counter-insurgency operations. Civil liberties organisations have been pointing out the widespread human rights violations that are taking place in these areas in the cover of counter-insurgency operations. This raises grave concerns and points to a movement in the direction of a military state, which can have no place in a democratic republic such as ours. […]

Read the whole statement here

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[Kracktivist] Soni Sori’s letter from Raipur Central Jail (Audio – Hindi and English)

Soni Sori wrote a letter from the Raipur Central Jail to her Lawyer Colin Gonsalves fighting her case. I read that letter for you, in Hindi and English, listen here

Soni Sori letter – Hindi

Soni Sori Letter – English Translation

Read (and listen to) the whole post here

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