PETITION TO THE PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER AND HOME MINISTER OF INDIA
We, the undersigned, are outraged by recent charges of murder that have been laid against
Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, JNU professor Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari (of Joshi Adhikar Sansthan, Delhi), Chhattisgarh CPI(M) state secretary, Sanjay Parate, Mangalram Karma, and Manju Kawasi, CPI activist and Sarpanch of Guphidi in Sukma district, by the Chhattisgarh police in the killing of Shamnath Baghel.
The charges are patently fabricated, and follow a pattern of intimidation by the Chhattisgarh police every time evidence is released of their lawless prosecution of the war against the Maoists. Earlier this year, Sundar, Prasad, Tiwari and Parate were part of a fact-finding team that looked at the impact of Maoist violence and state excesses on ordinary villagers in Bastar, finding that they were victims of fake encounters, rapes, arrests, beatings, IED blasts, and killing of informers, implicating Maoists, police, and security forces. The residents of Bastar were also found to be facing the renewal of attacks by civilian militias armed by the state. At that time too, the district administration of Bastar had tried to implicate the fact-finding team on fake charges on the basis of a contrived complaint. More recently, when the police were charge-sheeted on the basis of evidence gathered by Sundar and others for carrying out arson in an operation in 2011, they retaliated by burning effigies of her and other activists and journalists in order to intimidate and incite violence against them.
Sundar and others have put on record their unequivocal condemnation of the killing of Shamnath Baghel. Their writing and interventions on the ongoing war in Bastar have consistently condemned all forms of violence, whether by the state or by the Maoists.
We are saddened by the climate of silencing of dissent that is becoming widespread in India and concerned that the work of researchers, journalists, lawyers and activists is being monitored and controlled to quell critical scrutiny of governmental actions. We believe such silencing of opposing views poses a grave danger to the democratic values of India.