Supreme Court grants interim bail to Soni Sori and Linga Kodopi
The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted interim bail to tribal school teacher of Dantewada Soni Sori and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi, a journalist, who were detained in Chhattisgarh in September 2011 on charges of being couriers between Maoists and Essar Group.
Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi were granted bail since the Chhattisgarh government did not produce an officer for assisting the court in examining the case records it had submitted earlier.
The next hearing on the case is on December 3, when the State is expected to file its reply.
Sori was accused of receiving ‘protection money’ on behalf of Maoists from the Essar Group. But she claimed she was falsely implicated in a number of cases linking her to Maoist activities. The bail application was filed couple of months ago by Sori’s lawyer Colin Gonsalves and Kodopi’s lawyer Prashant Bhusan.
Himanshu Kumar, HRLN Activist said, “It comes as good news to all those who have been fighting for the cause for the last two years, but the battle is yet not over.”
Himanshu Kumar said, “Sori, who is presently in Jagdalpur jail has been granted interim bail and the apex court has ordered Sori and Kodopi not to enter the Chhattisgarh border till the next hearing. SC has ordered Chhattisgarh police to release them and accompany Sori from Jagdalpur jail to New Delhi, where she will have to report to the nearest police station every Sunday.” “It has been now proved, with the bail granted to this tribal teacher and the Supreme Court’s decision, that tribal’s like Sori, her husband and Kodopi are tortured and tagged as Maoist supporters. Soon, she will be acquitted in all five charges she was accused of.”
Amiy Shukla, HRLN lawyer, said Ms. Sori was acquitted in six of the eight cases filed against her. Her husband, Anil Futane, co-accused in another case, died during this time. The children separated from the family.
Sori and Lingaram had allegedly faced torture in police custody on October 8 and 9 in 2011. The issue had hit national headlines raising alarm across the globe and many human rights activists coming together and providing them legal help. Sori had claimed she was allegedly sexually tortured in police custody. In her letters, she mentioned she was raped. “Stripping me naked, giving electric shocks, shoving stones inside me – is this going to solve the Naxal problem?” she wrote in letters to Supreme Court.
Activists all across the globe raised campaigns after it came to light, that a senior police official who, Sori alleged, had ordered her torture was conferred a gallantry award by the President of India in January 2012. Both Sori and Kodopi either got bail or were acquitted in most of the cases, but they were denied bail by the Chattisgarh courts. Sori has been acquitted in six of the eight cases.
Sori recently lost her husband Anil Futane, a paralytic patient. She was granted bail to perform his last rites on August 2 this year. Futane was also in jail for four years on charges of supporting Maoists. Sori has two daughters and one son who stay with relatives in Dantewada. Recently on September 28, Amnesty International had submitted a petition to Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh urging him to drop all charges against Sori and Kodopi. Shashi kumar, programme coordinator, Amnesty International India, in a mail to TOI had said that more than 10,300 have supported the cause and both the tribal’s were victims of torture by personnel of Chhattisgarh Armed force and state police.
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