Chhattisgarh Police on Tuesday indicated that it was set to drop charges under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and of murder and criminal conspiracy against Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, JNU professor Archana Prasad, CPM leader Sanjay Parate, and three others.
The case, registered on November 2016, said the six had a hand in the murder of Shamnath Baghel of Nama village in Sukma district — despite neither Sundar or Prasad being in Chhattisgarh at the time of the incident.
Senior police officers told The Indian Express that during their investigation, they found no evidence of the involvement of the six in the murder. Jitendra Shukla, Superintendent of Police, Sukma said, “Yes, the cases will be taken back. But so far, the chargesheet has not been filed in the court.”
In a joint statement, the six members of the fact-finding team said, “We are happy that the Chhattisgarh Police have dropped our names from the chargesheet in the murder of Shyamnath Baghel. We hope that the many hundreds of innocent adivasis and all others who have been falsely implicated and are languishing in jail will also soon get justice… ”
In May 2016, Sundar, Prasad, Parate, Vineet Tiwari, Manju Kawasi, and Manglaram Karma, visited the villages of Nama and Sautenar village in Sukma on a fact-finding mission after the men of the villages formed the “Tangiya Army” that sought to guard their homes against Maoists. The team’s visit turned controversial after a police complaint claimed that the activists had told the villagers to “side with the Maoists”.
In November 2016, Shamnath Baghel, who was a member of the Tangiya Army, was killed by Maoists. Based on the complaint of his wife Vinita Baghel, police registered cases of murder and criminal conspiracy against the fact-finding team for allegedly warning Baghel to not side against the Maoists, and for allegedly being involved in his murder.