A day after tribal rights activist and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Soni Sori was attacked with grease-like chemical, she was moved from Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh to the national capital Sunday for further treatment.
Senior police officers said a case has been registered at Geedam police station in Dantewada district and investigations were under way.
Her face swollen and blackened, Sori spoke to the media briefly at Raipur airport Sunday and said she was worried about her children’s security, and that this was the latest in a series of attempts to intimidate her. “There is a danger to me and my children,” Sori said. “I got a call at 6.15 pm (on Saturday) and was told that some people may attack me. But I never thought something like this would actually happen,” she said.
The attack on Sori is being seen by many activists as one in a series of action against people working for rights of tribal communities. It came a day after Sori was told by the district administration that her home stood on illegal land, days after freelance journalist Malini Subramaniam, and the Jagdalpur Legal Aid group were forced to leave Bastar, allegedly on police pressure.
According to information, Sori was returning home, in Geedam, around 10.30 pm after meeting members of the Jagdalpur group, who were leaving Bastar for Bilaspur. She was riding pillion with another woman, Rinki Thakur, when three men on a bike forced them to stop near Bastanar, in Bastar, around 10.30 pm. “One of them held a knife to Rinki’s threat and the other two smeared her (Sori’s) face with a blackish substance… and fled,” said AAP’s Chhattisgarh convenor Sanket Thakur. He said Sori had earlier been warned against taking up cases against Bastar range IGP, S R P Kalluri, and against raising the issue of an alleged fake encounter in Mardoom, Jagdalpur, earlier this month.
Emphasising that the incident cannot be termed an “attack”, Dantewada SP Kamlochan Kashyap said a case has been registered based on the statement of Sori’s colleague Arvind Gupta. “We are following all procedures. But you cannot call it an attack —her face has been blackened by some grease,” Kashyap said. “We are in the process of getting a statement from her as well.”
Hours after police booked the complaint, Gupta said pamphlets were thrown at his house in Geedam: “The pamphlets say it is my turn next; they threatened my family. I have informed the police but I am very scared.”
An AAP statement said, “Soni Sori’s attackers directly threatened her to stop raising her voice and to give up the Mardoom case. She has been warned that they would attack her daughter too if she does not stop.”