The National Human Rights Commission has summoned Chief Secretary of Chhatisgarh government and IGP of Bastar Range, in the wake of alleged hostility and abuse of power against social activist Nandini Sundar and others in connection with a tribal murder case. The NHRC said it has noted and taken suo motu cognisance of the “nationwide outcry and protest” against IGP of Bastar Range S R P Kalluri for registering an FIR on November 5 against Sundar, Delhi University professor Archana Prasad and few others in connection with the alleged murder of a tribal man in Naxal-affected areas of the state.
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As per media reports over the last week, it has been alleged that Chhattisgarh Police has named Sundar, a JNU professor and 10 others as accused in the murder of Samnath Baghel in Sukma District on November 4, the NHRC said in a statement on Thursday.
“It is reported that he was killed by Maoists as he had been leading a campaign against Maoists activities since April 2016. It has been alleged that these professors had visited Bastar in May 2016, while this murder took place in November.
“There is no apparent connection between murder and visit of these human rights activists and, therefore, it has been alleged that they have been framed in mala fide manner by police to settle scores,” the statement said.
The Commission said that on consideration of the whole situation in Chhattisgarh over more than a year, views the action of registration of FIR against Sundar and others “as an act in line with earlier acts of hostility displayed by police”.
“Naming of these human rights activists in the FIR…lends credence of the observation of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) that all this was part of the state police vendetta against the lawyers, journalists and human rights activists who have been critical of fake encounters, mass rapes, arson, etc. by security forces.
“The naming of these persons in FIR appears to be the ploy to stop their entry and visit to the tribal areas for exposing their misdeeds,” the NHRC said.
The Commission is “deeply disturbed” by the state of affairs in Chhattisgarh over last one year or more and is of the view that the Chief Secretary and IGP of Bastar Range “should appear in person before the Commission on November 30 at 11:00 AM with all reports to explain the allegations made against the police and administration in the media and by human rights defenders.”
In the considered view of the Commission, police of Chhattisgarh owes its explanation to the NHRC, as “there are allegations and its action seems to be coloured by mala fide, hostility and abuse of power on the allegations of false implication to silence the human rights defenders,” it said.
“Though, the Commission is aware of the direction of the Supreme Court given on November 15 directing issue of notice of four weeks before their arrest, yet the acts on the part of police stand on independent footing for the Commission to intervene,” it added.