Around noon on Wednesday, a posse of policemen wheeled Soni Sori through the corridors of Raipur’s Ambedkar hospital en route to a routine Computed Tomography (CT) scan that no hospital in the five districts of south Chhattisgarh was equipped to handle. As she lay on her stretcher, Ms. Soni said she was on hunger strike to protest against her treatment at the hands of the police.
Ms. Sori, a 36 year old adivasi school teacher accused of serving as a conduit between the Essar company and the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), was referred to Raipur after she said she had a fall while in police custody in Dantewada. At the time, Ms. Sori told this correspondent that she had been mentally tortured by police interrogators but had not been physically hit during questioning.
On Tuesday night, local television channels played footage of Ms. Sori announced her hunger strike. “Why are the police treating me like a criminal? Why did they shackle my feet,” asks Ms. Sori in the clip, adding that the shackles had been removed before the TV cameras were let into the room.
“I am still on hunger strike to protest against the false cases level;ed against me,” said Ms. Sori on Wednesday morning in a brief exchange with this correspondent, before policemen wheeled her into the hospital’s trauma ward.
However, hospital doctors and police officers associated with the case refused to comment on the case. Neither the Medical Superintendent of the Ambedkar Hospital, Dr. Vivek Choudhury nor police spokesperson Mr. Vivekananda Sinha returned calls made to their office.
In a related development, news agencies reported that the National Human Rights Commission had taken cognisance of Ms. Sori’s case and had directed its officers to look into allegations of custodial mistreatment.