Noted historians Irfan Habib, Amar Farooqi and several other academicians today condemned naming of a DU and JNU professor in a murder case of a tribal in Maoists-hit Bastar and demanded that charges be dropped. Two women professors–Nandini Sundar from Delhi University and Archana Prasad from JNU–along with Maoists and others have been booked by police in connection with the murder of a tribal villager in Naxal-affected Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.
“We deplore the atmosphere of intolerance for the advocacy of human rights, typified by the burning an effigy of well-known activists a fortnight back by members of the police force. “This action followed a finding by the CBI that members of the police force and the so-called volunteers or special police officers they recruited were responsible for an incident of arson in Tadmedla village of Sukma district, in which 160 dwellings were burnt,” they said in a joint statement issued by Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT).
“We demand that the charges be dropped at once. We also urge authorities in Chhattisgarh to pay special attention to the safety and security of the two local political activists who have been charged,” the statement added. Armed Naxals had allegedly killed tribal villager Shamnath Baghel with sharp weapons on November 4 at his residence in Nama village under Kumakoleng gram panchayat in Tongpal area, around 450 km away from Raipur.
Sundar and Prasad are among 10 people named by police in connection with the murder of Baghel based on the complaint of his wife. Both have rejected the charges against them, claiming they have been framed. Meanwhile, Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) also came out in their support condemning the case against them.
“It is clear that the police and the state have been systematically targeting these public intellectuals and political activists since the time they wrote a fact-finding report on the repressive state machinery. “The DUTA decries the unlawful repression of dissenting voices and the penchant to treat people in the academia and activists as enemies as is seen in harassment and victimisation of teachers,” it said in a statement.