We the Undersigned, strongly condemn the absurd charges of‘criminal conspiracy and murder’ against highly respected academics and social activists by the Chhattisgarh police in the case of murder of Shamnath Baghel by unknown persons on 4th November.
None of the following named in the FIR – Dr Nandini Sundar, Head of the Department of Sociology, Delhi University; Dr Archana Prasad, Professor, JNU; Vineet Tiwari of the Joshi Adhikar Sansthan;Sanjay Parate, Secretary, CPM, Chhattisgarh and Manju Kawasi of the CPI – were anywhere near the spot of the killing of Shamnath Baghel. Implicating them for this heinous crime only smacks of sheer vendetta by the police against them for daring to enquire into human rights violations in the state as part of an independent fact finding team.
The Chhattisgarh police’s action is further indication of the undeclared Emergency that has gripped the nation and the harassment of bonafide human rights activists and citizen’s groups trying to protect the fundamental Constitutional rights of ordinary citizens. In particular the Chhattisgarh Inspector General of Police SRP Kalluri seems to have embarked on a mission to prevent the rest of the country from scrutinising the many illegal actions of his forces against innocent tribal populations in the state as part of his war against Maoist extremism.
We have always believed that the use of violence by both the state authorities and those opposed to them are both wrong and any lasting settlement to the conflict in Chhattisgarh can only be brought about through political negotiations between all parties involved. Fact finding teams, like the one the academics and activists were part of, are critical to enabling such dialogue for a peaceful resolution and any assault on them is a threat to both peace and democracy.
We demand that the Chhattisgarh government immediately intervene to drop the arbitrary inclusion of names of completely unrelated persons from the current FIR filed in the Baghel murder case and instead launch a proper criminal investigation to apprehend those really responsible.
Ravi S. Vasudevan