Judicial remand for accused in Essar 'protection money' case

October 10, 2011 05:29 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 12:54 am IST - Dantewada

Sori Soni is wheeled into the district hospital in Dantewada after she said she lost consciousness following two days of intense questioning at the Dantewada police station.

Sori Soni is wheeled into the district hospital in Dantewada after she said she lost consciousness following two days of intense questioning at the Dantewada police station.

Soni Sori, an adivasi woman accused of acting as a courier between the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and the Essar group, was brought to the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) Yogita Vinay Wasnik in Dantewada and transferred to judicial remand.

Ms. Sori was arrested on October 4, 2011 in New Delhi on suspicions that she served as a conduit for the transfer of funds between Essar and the Maoists to safeguard the company’s assets in rebel-controlled areas in Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Ms. Sori is also charged with aiding the Maoists in three other unrelated incidents. Both Ms. Sori and the Essar group have denied the charges of aiding the guerrillas in any way.

In a court in Delhi last week, Ms. Sori’s lawyers argued against transferring her to a jail in Chhattisgarh as Ms. Sori said she feared for her safety. But the Chhattisgarh police was granted two days to question her, with the proviso that they make arrangements for her personal security.

On Monday morning in Dantewada, Ms. Sori was rushed to the hospital with a head and back injury, prompting concerns that her fears may have proved prophetic. Ms. Sori said she had not been physically tortured by the police, but had lost consciousness after two days of intense interrogation.

“I was mentally tortured for two days. They kept asking me the same questions again and again. I could barely eat,” she said in an interview at the district hospital in Dantewada in the presence of policemen. “This morning I fainted in the bathroom of the police station and fell and hurt my head and my hip,” she said.

Ms. Sori’s lawyer, Kshitij Dubey said Ms. Sori had not been physically been produced before JMFC Wasnik, but her statement was recorded by the court reader in a police jeep. “Soni could not walk into the courtroom, so a reader was sent to the jeep to record her statement,” Mr. Dubey said, adding that Ms. Sori told the reader and her lawyer that her injuries were from a fall in the bathroom of the police station.

“Ms. Sori has been transferred to a hospital in Jagdalpur for a C.T. scan and check up,” Mr. Dubey said. “She will be sent to judicial custody once she is discharged from the hospital.”

Ms. Sori’s testimony may prove significant when the case is finally brought to court. In a prior interview with this correspondent she had maintained that she and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi, another accused in the case, had been framed by the police.

This article has been updated for clarity .

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