- 5:30pm until 7:00pm
- Venue: Mumbai
“On the night of Saturday, 8.10.2011, in the new police station in Dantewada which has been built next to the old police-station, I was tortured”, Soni Sori. This hunger strike is for Soni, Indian citizen, woman, schoolteacher, adivasi.
Since 8th February, 2011, Soni has been on an indefinite hunger strike to protest against the torture and injustice meted out to her by the Chhattisgarh government. We, women’s groups and human rights activists from all over India and the world, salute her courage in the face of physical and sexual torture, forced isolation and threats to the wellbeing of her three innocent children. On this day, in solidarity with her protest, we are observing a one-day hunger strike, across the country in Delhi(other places)
Soni Sori is a 35 year old adivasi who was a school teacher and warden of a government‐run school for tribal children in Jabeli, Dantewada in Chhattigarh. This determined young woman was known to feed tribal children with her own money at times when there were delays in government supplies for their rations. She was also bold enough to hoist the Indian flag in her school for which she had to face the wrath of the Naxalites.
Soni Sori had disclosed to the newsmagazine, Tehelka, significant evidence of the complicity of the Chhattisgarh Police in multiple cases. Her victimisation began soon after this.
In spite of the brutal torture inflicted on her, on December 1, 2011, the Supreme Court ordered that she remain in the custody in Chhattisgarh for an additional period of 55 days until the next hearing on 25th January, 2012.
To date, this case has not yet come up before the Court.
The violence inflicted on Soni and other women is a symptom of the policies being followed by the state. With the creation of a vigilante force like the Salwa Judum and passing many draconian laws (like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act) the state of Chhattisgarh is clearing the land of its rightful inhabitants to pave the way for large-scale corporate expansion. Soni Sori is just one more adivasi who has been caught in the crossfire. Ironically enough, her father was shot at by the Maoists on suspicion of being a police informer and her husband continues to languish in jail for being a Maoist supporter. Without the support of either parent, her three young children are practically orphaned.
On Feb 23, 2012, in a letter to her Supreme Court lawyer, asking to be transferred from Raipur to Jagdalpur jail, Soni Sori says, “I am not safe here. I have faced a lot of injustice … I am certain they will kill me. I would like to spend my last days near my children … Thinking of the suffering of my adivasi brothers and sisters, as well as my husband, the Chhattisgarh government has left me with no option but to go on a hunger strike”. Her health condition is deteriorating as she waits for her case to be heard in the Supreme Court. The state authorities deny her medical attention and continue to torture her by driving her in their jeep for hours together to attend court in Dantewada (twelve hours away). She ends her poignant appeal, “Please don’t leave me here to die a lingering death”.
It is a dark day for Indian democracy today. Soni Sori is repeatedly being tossed around the various Courts and Commissions denying her any succour as her case is subjudice. Women’s teams who have supporting her have been refused permission to meet her and give her solace. This is a brazen violation of human rights and the rights guaranteed to all citizens by the Indian Constitution.
In her letter, Soni Sori also records her protest at the fact that she is continuously referred to as the “Naxalite” woman by the jail authorities. While the police have accused her of helping the Naxalites, she has strongly denied all these allegations claiming malicious victimization by the police, and none of these charges have been proven yet. Venting her anger against the Government, she writes in her letter, “We adivasis, are only fated to suffer atrocities and die; dying is necessary. We adivasis, are a business for the government. The more the Chhattisgarh government exploits and oppresses us, commits atrocities against and tortures us, mercilessly rapes our women and strips us naked, the more the government will profit.” She represents the agony of many others caught in the crossfire.
— Raise your voice. Be with humanity. Be with Us.