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Chhattisgarh Police criticised for alleged torture of activist

Right activists Tuesday slammed Chhattisgarh Police for allegedly torturing a suspected Maoist conduit who was held in Delhi last week and brought back to the state and sought a probe. Police have denied the charges, saying the injuries were accidental.

 The woman tribal teacher, Soni Sori, accused of receiving ‘protection money’ from the Essar Group on behalf of the Maoist rebels, was Monday rushed to a hospital in Jagdalpur town, headquarters of Bastar region after she received injuries on her head and lower back during custody of Dantewada police.

 Right activists have termed the injuries to Sori as a fallout of the police torture and said Chhattisgarh government should comprehensively probe the matter and come out clean on the issue.

 ‘It (Sori’s injury) is a case of custodial violence… reasons for her injury should be probed by an independent agency because she received severe injury in police custody,’ Rajendra K. Sail, former president for People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Chhattisgarh, told IANS.

 Referring to Sori’s remarks to the electronic media in Jagdalpur Monday that she would disclose later the reasons for her injury, Sail said: ‘Sori can’t say anything independently now about her injury because she is in police custody and only an independent probe will reveal the facts.’

 Another rights activist in the state, Gautam Kumar Bandopadhyay said that ‘a detailed probe should be undertaken by the state government how the woman who is branded as a Maoist conduit, got seriously injured in police custody.’

 ‘There are contradictory statements emerging out about the reasons that led to injury to Sori… One version says that police harassed her while another version say she slipped in the bathroom. But whatever the reason for her severe injury, it’s certain that the police are responsible because the accused was facing life threat from the state police for a long time and she received the injury in police custody.’

 Police strongly rejected charges of any kind of torture.

 ‘It was an accident, she slipped in the bathroom and she had made it clear to the doctor also who are treating her in Jagdalpur, some people are trying to unnecessarily make it an issue,’ said Additional Director General of Police Ram Niwas.

 The issue of the injuries emerged after Sori had moved the Delhi High Court Friday requesting that the Chhattisgarh Police not be allowed to take her back to the state as she faces threat to her life.

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