The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Chhattisgarh government to issue a notice to Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar and 10 others, who have been named as accused in the murder of an adivasi in Sukma district, four weeks before making any arrest or questioning them. The government’s counsel agreed. “We will not arrest or interrogate Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar. If [the] police want to arrest or interrogate, [we] will give her four weeks’ time.”
Sundar had filed the plea with the apex court, saying that she and the others have been accused as part of the state police’s vendetta against all those who have criticised encounters and gangrapes in the area. “This FIR against us is absurd. We haven’t even been to the area for five months,” she had said.
The court’s order comes four days after the Chhattisgarh government said it will not arrest Sundar until the case was heard on November 15. Apart from Sundar, others named in the FIR are 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 other suspected Maoists.
The police had claimed that Vimla, the wife of Shamnath Bhagel, had lodged an FIR against Sundar and the others after her husband was murdered on November 4. However, Vimla later said she had not named Sundar or anyone else in her complaint. Bhagel had been leading an agitation against Maoist activities in the region since April.
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.