Soni Sori case: HRW wants PM to order impartial probe on torture

March 08, 2012 12:42 am | Updated November 17, 2021 05:10 am IST - NEW DELHI

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to immediately intervene and order an impartial probe into the role of Chhattisgarh police in the case relating to alleged torture of tribal woman-teacher Soni Sori, who is detained in Raipur jail now, on the allegation of helping the Maoists.

It wanted proper medical facilities to be provided to the 35-year old tribal woman-mother, who was tortured so badly by the Chhattisgarh police that: “..two foreign body [sic] recovered of size 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.0 c.m. each from (her) the vagina and one foreign body of size 2.0 x 1.5 x 1.5 c.m. was recovered from the rectum….”, according to her lawyers quoting a medical report of the Kolkata hospital, HRW claimed.

HRW Executive Director of Women’s Rights Division Liesl Gerntholtz, in a letter to Dr. Singh, said the Soni Sori case raised serious questions about the commitment of the Indian government to prevent torture, investigate the torture allegations, hold accountable those responsible for the torture, and ensure that detainees and prisoners have adequate access to health care.

Besides being subjected to sexual assaults at the hands of the Chhattisgarh police, the woman was also given electric shocks in the name of interrogation, the letter said quoting various reports.

Quoting a public letter allegedly written by Ms. Sori to her lawyer in the Supreme Court, the HRW said: “.. Soni Sori identified and named the police officer who she says ordered and carried out torture in police custody. She wrote - after repeatedly giving me electric shocks, my clothes were taken off. I was made to stand naked. (Superintendent of Police) Ankit Garg was watching me, sitting on his chair”.

“While looking at my body, he abused me in filthy language and humiliated me. After some time, he went out and (…) sent three boys. (They) started molesting me and I fell after they pushed me. Then they put things inside my body in a brutal manner. I couldn’t bear the pain and I was almost unconscious. After a long time, I regained consciousness (…) By then, it was already morning”.

Nearly three months after the Koltaka medical report, activists told HRW that the Chhattisgarh government was yet to file even a FIR and start an investigation into the “torture” by the police. Despite the clear risk that such an investigation of the Chhattisgarh police by its own ranks could be biased, the Indian government had failed to initiate any independent investigation.

On the contrary, in January 2012, the President of India had awarded Ankit Garg, the police officer Soni Sori identified as being involved in her torture, the police medal for gallantry, HRW said in its letter.

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