“Has been subjected to barbaric sexual abuse in police custody”

Locating the alleged sexual torture of the young tribal teacher Soni Sori in police custody at Raipur Central Jail in the context of the ongoing debate and agitation against violence against women, several activists and intellectuals held a silent protest march from Jantar Mantar to the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Ahead of her case which is expected to be heard by the Supreme Court on Thursday, they demanded her immediate release and punishment to the Dantewada Superintendent of Police.

Chhattisgarh-based human rights activist Himanshu Kumar, who has been in touch with Soni Sori through letters, argued that Ms. Sori’s human rights were being grossly violated as she was being repeatedly subjected to the most barbaric and repulsive sexual abuse for more than a year now in police custody in Raipur Central Jail. “At least two separate medical reports have shown evidence of stones being shoved into her private parts. Yet, despite repeated protests, no action had been taken till now,” he said.

Former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union Sucheta De alleged that despite Ms. Sori’s repeated requests for safety and protection from the “torture” of Chhattisgarh Police, she has not been transferred out of the State. “She has been in jail for more than a year on spurious, trumped up charges. Finally, her case will be heard on Thursday at the Supreme Court and we demand justice for her.”

Mahtab Alam from the Coalition for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders specifically highlighted that the SP who was accused of torturing Ms. Sori was awarded by the Government. “It is a matter of great shame and horror that far from being punished, he was awarded with the presidential police medal on January 26 last year.”

The speakers also highlighted that in reaction to the outrage across the country against the gang-rape, politicians have demanded fast-track courts to deal with rape cases. They have been ignoring the protesters demands of fast-tracking the over one lakh pending rape cases.

The silent protest march, which saw the participation among others by activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan, activist Swami Agnivesh and academician Uma Chakravarty, started from Jantar Mantar which has been seeing ongoing protest against cases of violence against women and gang-rape of the 23-year-old medical student. The march was stopped a few metres away from the Supreme Court.

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