The Chhattisgarh government on Friday told the Supreme Court that it will not arrest Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, who was booked in connection with the murder of a tribal man in Sukma, until the case is heard on November 15. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the state will submit its report before the next hearing, IANS reported.
The police had claimed that the wife of Shamnath Bhagel, Vimla, had lodged an FIR against Sundar and several others after her husband was murdered on November 4. However, Vimla has told NDTV that she had not named Sundar or anyone else in her complaint. She told the news channel that Maoists had attacked their house while they were sleeping on November 4. “There were 15-20 men...I did not know any of them...They took him and killed him on the road,” Vimla said.
Bhagel had been leading an agitation against Maoist activities in the region since April. The police had named Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari from Delhi’s Joshi Adhikar Sansthan, Chhattisgarh Communist Party of India (Marxist) State Secretary Sanjay Parate and a few others, along with Maoists, in the FIR.
Earlier, the police had said that Vimla’s complaint had alleged that Bhagel had been receiving threats from Maoists since May, after he had lodged a complaint against Professor Sundar and the other accused alleging that they were inciting tribal villagers in the area to act against the police. “Even armed ultras were referring to the complaint [against Sundar] and anti-Maoist demonstrations while attacking Bhagel on Friday,” Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) SRP Kalluri had said.
Sundar, who heads Delhi University’s Sociology Department, has written a book on Maoist insurgency and the violence in Chattisgarh’s Bastar region. Her recent book,The Burning Forest: India’s war in Bastar, documents the conflict and its consequences. In 2011, the Supreme Court had 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 had ruled the deployment of tribal villagers with roles akin to special police personnel as unconstitutional.