Chhattisgarh’s Congress government is likely to announce a commission of inquiry into cases of police excesses and illegal detentions under the earlier regime in the name of fighting Maoists. The commission’s findings are expected to form the basis for corrective action by the government.
Details of the terms of reference for the proposed commission are not known yet. However, the following are some prominent cases of accusations and arrests made by the Chhattisgarh Police in the past few years.
Bastar based schoolteacher turned political leader Sori was arrested by the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch for Chhattisgarh Police in 2011 for allegedly acting as an intermediary for Maoists. A few months before her arrest, her husband too had been arrested for being a Maoist supporter. Sori was allegedly tortured and sexually assaulted by the state police. Her husband allegedly underwent a similar ordeal, and was reported to have been paralysed waist-down as a result of torture. He passed away soon after being released.
In 2014, Sori was released on bail. Thereafter she joined the Aam Aadmi Party, and she has since been working with tribals.
In November 2016, an FIR was filed against Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar in connection with the murder of a tribal man in Sukma. Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari from Delhi’s Joshi Adhikar Sansthan, Chhattisgarh Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sanjay Parate, and some others were also booked.
Prof Sundar has written extensively on the Maoist insurgency in Bastar. In 2011, the Supreme Court had ordered dissolution of the state-backed militia Salwa Judum based of Sundar’s petition.
The Chhattisgarh Police recently cleared Sundar along with the others of all charges.
In June 2018, the Chhattisgarh Police arrested blogger and freelance journalist Abhay Devdas Nayak and alleged that he was an “important part of the Maoist overground network”. According to police, Nayak had visited 15 countries including those with “active rebel elements” and was part of the Co-ordination Committee of Maoist Party and Organisations in South Asia.
The police also alleged that Nayak had links with Maoist sympathisers Rona Wilson and Professor Shoma Sen who had been arrested previously in connection with the Bhima Koregaon protests.
In October 2015, Bastar based journalist Santosh Yadav was arrested by the police for alleged Maoist links. Soon after his arrest, a massive protest was organised by journalists in Chhattisgarh who marched to the residence of then Chief Minister Raman Singh’s residence. Thereafter three more journalists were booked and arrested by the police.
Yadav was granted bail in February 2017 by the Supreme Court.