Open Letter to The Honourable Chief Justice of India and Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court of India

The Open letter (dated 21st December, 2011) is a plea and a protest from 68 different organizations and 188 prominent individuals including researchers, writers, activists, lawyers, doctors, scientists and professors. The letter includes a descriptive report on what has been happening with Soni Sori’s case thus far from her date of arrest (Oct. 4th 2011).

The letter has details of Soni Sori’s two attempts to seek protection from the courts via the judicial process on Oct 7th and 8th of 2011. However on Oct. 10th (by the time the courts and the public see her again from the time of her arrest), Soni Sori is in so much pain that she is unable to stand up long enough to step out of the police van. (A video of her condition has been widely disseminated over the internet).

Soni Sori is unable to appear in front of the Magistrate that day.

From the Open Letter:

[…] In subsequent statements to relatives, her lawyer and a letter addressed to the Supreme Court itself, Soni Sori has described the custodial torture that she was subjected to. She has stated that she has ‘pulled out of her cell at the Dantewada Police Station on the night of 8/9 October 2011 and taken to S.P.Ankit Garg’s room’. There she was stripped and given electric shocks and that stones and batons were inserted into her private parts’. When she awoke the next morning, she had severe aches all over her body, especially her neck and spine, and acute pain in her lower abdomen. She has subsequently informed her lawyer (affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court), that she found several stones inserted in her vagina, many of which she managed to remove herself, but not all.

The Supreme Court (in WRIT PETITION (CRL)NO. 206 of 2011) observed that the injuries against her person did not appear to be as simple as the State was making them out to be, and ordered an independent medical examination in NRS Medical College Hospital in Kolkata. The medical report, presented to the Supreme Court on 25th November, 2011 states that two stones were found inserted deep inside her vagina and one in her rectum. The MRI scan also reveals annular tears on her spine. All irrefutable evidence of custodial sexual abuse and torture that Soni Sori has suffered at the hands of Chattisgarh Police.

Yet, on 1st December 2011, the Supreme Court ordered that Soni Sori remain in the custody of the Chattisgarh State for an additional period of 55 days until the next hearing on 25th January, 2012. Given the prior apprehension of such violence especially in cases under the shadow of the Maoist issue, and in light of the medical examination report placed before the Court, we are distressed that no immediate action was initiated against responsible police officials, or protection ensured for Soni Sori until the next date of hearing. […]

Read the full letter here [pdf download]. The Hindi translation can be found here.

This is the second letter of its kind to the Supreme Court. Additionally there has been an outpouring of separate press statements from respected organizations and groups from all over India (including one from a CPI to the Prime Minister of India, pleading for his intervention).

There have been protest rallies held both nationally (within India) and internationally for the release of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.

There are at least three petitions currently in circulation for Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi, including the most recent one from Amnesty International — condemning their arrest and custodial torture and calling for their immediate release.

A little over 4 months have passed since Soni Sori’s arrest without any forthcoming evidence on the charges against her. To the contrary, a video has been made showing Chattisgarh police admitting that they fabricated charges against both Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.

Soni Sori remains imprisoned. The man responsible for her torture has been awarded the country’s highest award of bravery.

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