Wednesday, November 9, 2016


A first information report has been registered against six of us (and assorted others) for the murder of a villager called Shamnath Baghel on November 4th, ostensibly on the complaint of his wife. The charges are serious and include murder, rioting, possession of arms, and unlawful activities (UAPA).

This FIR comes in close succession to a series of incidents implicating the police.

In 2011, the police had gone on combing operations in which they burnt 300 homes in the villages of Tadmetla, Timapuram and Morpalli. 3 women were raped and 3 men were killed. The Salwa Judum leaders, a vigilante group supported by the police also attacked Swami Agnivesh, a well known human rights activist and religious leader. In July 2011, the Supreme Court ordered a CBI enquiry as part of the petition filed by Nandini Sundar, Manish Kunjam and ors.

On 17 October 2016, the CBI chargesheeted 7 SPOs for arson and 26 Salwa Judum leaders for the attack on Swami Agnivesh.

On 23 October 2016, IG Bastar Kalluri took responsibility for directing the operations, claimed the CBI was lying and accused Nandini Sundar of bribing villagers to depose.

On 24 October 2016, the former Special Police Officers turned armed auxiliary forces/constables burnt effigies of activists

On 26 October 2016, AGNI, a state sponsored vigilante group and RSS activists attacked a press conference by Manish Kunjam, President of the Adivasi Mahasabha, and one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court case which resulted in the CBI chargesheet against SPOs. The CPI office in Jagdalpur was vandalized.

On November 7 2016, the Bastar police led by Mr. Kalluri framed a false FIR against Nandini Sundar, Archana Prasad and others for the murder of Shamnath Baghel by Maoists on November 4th.  

The background to this: A group of us had gone on a visit to Bastar in May 2016. In a group of villages we visited (Nama, Soutnar, Kumakoleng)  the villagers had formed an anti-Maoist patrol gang, which they called the ‘tangiya gang’ with support from the police. 

The police got a fake complaint filed against us (ostensibly in the name of villagers) saying we incited the villagers against police and in favour of the Maoists. Indian Express had also done a story quotingthe villagers saying they had not filed any complaint. 

Our press release, as well as articles in EPW and Times of India show that we had done no such thing as inciting villagers or threatening to burn their houses. Instead we faithfully reported the villagers dilemma caught between the police and Maoists, and stressed the need for peace talks. 

On Nov 4, the Maoists killed the leader of this anti-Maoist gang. We are being charged with his murder, ostensibly on the complaint of his wife, Vimla. On November 11, the wife says on camera that she never named anyone, exposing the police lies. She has since been given a job in the police. 

The police are also claiming that Nandini Sundar had malafide intent because I used a false name, Richa Keshav, on that visit. However, this was only used once, and for the safety of the team. I have had a long history of persecution by the Chhattisgarh police.

The people being charged:  

Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology, Delhi University (author of The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar, Juggernaut Press 2016, also lead petitioner in the case in which the Supreme Court banned Salwa Judum in 2011, Nandini Sundar & Ors. vs. State of Chhattisgarh)

Archana Prasad, Professor, Centre for Informal Sector and Labour Studies, JNU (author of Environmentalism and the Left, Leftword 2004), also member of AIDWA, CPM’s women wing)

Vineet Tiwari, former journalist and currently at the Joshi-Adhikari Institute of Social Studies, also member of the CPI

Sanjay Parate, State Secretary of the CPM, Chhattisgarh

Manju Kawasi, Sarpanch of Guphidi village, CPI activist, Sukma District, Chhattisgarh

Mangalram Karma, former resident of Nama, now working as a carpenter elsewhere.

plus assorted Maoists.