Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar (pictured above), Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Archana Prasad and others, including suspected Maoists, have been booked in connection with the murder of a tribal man in Chhattisgarh's Sukma, police officials told PTI. A police complaint filed by the victim Shamnath Bhagel's wife Vimla stated that her husband was allegedly killed by Maoists at their residence in Sauthnar village on Friday.
Shamnath Bhagel's wife's complaint alleged that Bhagel had been receiving threats from Maoists since May, after he had lodged a complaint against Sundar and the other accused alleging that they were inciting tribal villagers in the area to act against the police. Bhagel's complaint in May had said Sundar and the others were seeking support for Maoists in the area, Hindustan Times reported. However, Sundar on Tuesday said, "Filing an FIR against us is absurd. We haven't even been to that area since May."
Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) SRP Kalluri said, "A First Information Report was lodged against Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, JNU professor Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari from Delhi's Joshi Adhikar Sansthan, Chhattisgarh Communist Party of India (Marxist) State Secretary Sanjay Parate and others along with Maoists for the murder of Baghel," the news agency reported. "Even armed ultras were referring to the complaint [against Sundar] and anti-Maoist demonstrations while attacking Bhagel on Friday."
Sundar, who heads Delhi University's sociology department, has written a book on Maoist insurgency and the violence in Bastar. Her recent book, The Burning Forest: India’s war in Bastar documents the conflict and its consequences. In 2011, the Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of state-backed militia Salwa Judum based on Sundar's petition. Salwa Judum was set up to counter the Maoist presence in Chhattisgarh. The apex court ruled the deployment of tribal villagers with roles akin to special police personnel as unconstitutional.
The inspector general said Sundar had visited the village using a fake identity. Kalluri said letters informing vice-chancellors of both universities concerned about the investigation, involving the professors' presence in Bastar, had been sent.
The murder victim Bhagel had been leading the agitation against Maoist activities in the region since April, when villages of Nama had set up their own security front called "Tangiya (axe) group" to challenge Maoist activity, PTI reported.