Chhattisgarh woman allegedly tortured by police on the charge that she was a Maoist

Noam Chomsky, liberal philosopher and Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has joined a list of close to 250 Indian and foreign intellectuals in an open letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, protesting the “brutal treatment meted out to Soni Sori,” a Chhattisgarh woman said to have been tortured by police on unproven allegations that she was a Maoist.

In the letter signed by Professor Chomsky and others, including Jean Dreze, Harsh Mander, Anand Patwardhan, Aruna Roy, and Arundhati Roy, the group called for “immediate medical attention” to Ms. Sori, 35, who was allegedly stripped, electrocuted and tortured, physically and sexually.

After the Supreme Court ordered an independent medical examination of Ms. Sori at NRS Medical College, Kolkata, doctors found stones lodged in her vagina and rectum.

Fear for her life

“We fear for Soni's life and are outraged and ashamed at this inhuman treatment of a woman in India,” the authors of the letter said. Ms. Sori is still under arrest in Chhattisgarh.

Pointing out that she has received “virtually no follow-up medical treatment for the injuries she sustained in police custody and the infections that have developed as a consequence,” Mr. Chomsky and others said two individuals, who had met Ms. Sori last week, reported that her face was “visibly swollen and her hands and feet appeared abnormally thin, indicating severe weight loss.”

They urged that with six months passing since the time Ms. Sori was said to have been tortured, her attempts to communicate with civil society groups had also been stifled, and in January, a team from women's groups attempting to meet her in the Raipur jail “were prevented from doing so by the administration.”

In the letter, also addressed to Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the intellectuals expressed “grave concern” at Ms. Sori's medical condition and demanded immediate access for fact-finding groups to meet her.

Gallantry medal

In a message to The Hindu from the Association for India's Development (AID), a non-profit organisation pressing for Ms. Sori's case to be heard, a member noted that contrary to any notion that an investigation had been initiated against the police officers involved, Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg, named in Ms. Sori's letters, was awarded a Gallantry Medal on Republic Day this year.

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