In contrast to the statement made by National Commission for Women (NCW) member Amina Shafiq that tribal teacher Soni Sori lodged in the Raipur Central Jail required psychological counselling, National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) general secretary Annie Raja said there was no need.
Ms. Raja, who visited the 36-year-old teacher earlier this month, along with an NCW delegation, has submitted a report to the Commission, expressing her views. NCW is in the process of finalising the report before making it public. Soni has been regularly writing letters, and has submitted a set of demands in writing to the team which visited her. A person who needed psychological counselling won’t be able to present her case so sharply, Ms. Raja said.
“I met Soni Sori along with the NCW team and spoke to her. She definitely underwent a lot of violence, and even the team acknowledged that ‘something happened’ in police custody. But I don’t think she needs counselling. Truth is, I have evidence that she doesn’t require it, and have submitted a report to the NCW on this. I am just waiting for them to finalise the report, after which we will have a press conference,” she told The Hindu.
“She is hale and healthy. We didn’t find any fault with her health, though she is under emotional trauma, which is natural, considering she has been in custody for more than a year. She needs counselling,” Ms. Amina is reported to have said, after the meeting with Soni.
“NCW says Soni needs psychological counselling to deal with the trauma suffered in police custody. This means that NCW acknowledges that Soni has suffered custodial torture. Why doesn’t NCW then demand that the people who inflicted the torture in police custody be investigated, prosecuted and punished? Justice will heal Soni. Isn’t it Soni’s right to get justice and NCW’s duty to protect her rights?” asks advocate Vrinda Grover.
In her letters, Soni has been complaining of bad health and being denied sustenance, apart from being forced to strip.A tribal teacher in Dantewada district, Soni was taken into custody from Delhi in October last year, on charges of being a courier between Maoists and the Essar group.