//After surviving an attempt on her life, she came to New Delhi to seek legal help, was arrested on

After surviving an attempt on her life, she came to New Delhi to seek legal help, was arrested on

6 oct 2011

G Vishnu
New Delhi

Thirty-six-year-old Soni Sori from Chhattisgarh, aunt of arrested activist and journalist Lingaram Kodopi was arrested in New Delhi on Tuesday by the Delhi Crime Branch in collaboration with Chhattisgarh police on the charge of being a “Maoist on the run”. Based on an intelligence input to the office of Commissioner of Police, provided by the Bastar SP office, Delhi police is said to have zeroed in on her near the Katwaria Sarai in the Capital.

Soni Sori, who has been on the run since her nephew Lingaram Kodopi was arrested by the Chhattisgarh police on 10 September for allegedly collecting funds from the ESSAR group on behalf of the Maoists. While fleeing, Soni, a mother of three, also survived an attempt on her life allegedly by the Chhattisgarh police.

A video in TEHELKA’s possession has a Chhattisgarh Police Official admitting in a telephone conversation with Soni Sori, that Kodopi has been arrested under false charges, for reasons completely different from the ESSAR case. “We arrested BK Lala (a private contractor also arrested in the ESSAR case) from his house. Nothing has happened. It was done to trap BK Lala. He doesn’t know Lingaram or you,” the police official who identified himself as Mankar, is heard telling Sori.

“Naxals called BK Lala’s mobile and he was called to the market. He just went to market. Then he came back from the market. After that he was arrested from his house. You be assured about this. It is just that you were seen there. That is why the police is using your name,” Mankar is heard telling Sori. Mankar then tries to convince Sori to get herself arrested so that she can be released in three months.

Soni Sori’s father was shot in the leg by the Maoists two months ago alleging the family to be helping the police. Sori according to sources was in New Delhi to get an anticipatory bail from the Supreme Court. However, owing to Dussehra the Apex Court is in recess and Sori were left helpless.

On Monday, a Chhattisgarh police team landed in Jaipur to raid People’s Union for Civil Liberties General Secretary Kavita Srivatsava’s house with a warrant alleging that she was hiding Sori. Since Srivastava was not home, the police questioned her family and harassed her 82-year-old father a heart patient.

“We are filing a case against the Chhattisgarh police for raiding my house in an illegal manner. They have attacked my liberty and democratic rights,” said Kavita Srivastava, in a press conference in New Delhi. “The Jaipur police colluded with Chhattisgarh police and even Central agencies gave inputs. When it comes to these matters it does not matter whether BJP or Congress is in power. The police are brutal to all vulnerable sections of society. Look at the way Chhattisgarh police is subverting the law. Both Lingaram and Sori are innocent adivasis and look what the police are doing to these young Adivasis,” she said.

Soni Sori after being produced in the Saket District court has given a statement that she fears for her life from the Chhattisgarh police. “We have appealed to the court that Soni Sori must not be taken to Chhattisgarh as we fear her life is at risk,” said advocate Vrinda Grover, who got Sori’s statement recorded in the court.

Sori, who has had a permanent warrant (no: 26/11) issued against her on four cases on 9 September, has been charged under IPC section 121(waging war against the state); 120(B) (conspiracy); 124(A) (sedition); section 39(1) and 40 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(offense related to contributing to terrorist activity and raising funds for terrorist activity). Two cases have also been filed under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA).

“These cases essentially make a bail plea hard to be recognised. Chhattisgarh High court has hardly ever recognised bail pleas whenever UAPA of CSPSA is involved,” said a senior lawyer commenting on the case.

The Delhi police denied any comment on the arrest but instead directed TEHELKA to get in touch with Chhattisgarh police. “We just assisted them. Please ask them the details,” said Rajan Bagat, Delhi Police PRO.

G Vishnu is a Correspondent with Tehelka.com.
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