Delhi University Professor Nandini Sundar, and Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Archana Prasad are among the 10 people accused in the murder of a tribal villager in Chhattisgarh. All the accused have been booked under sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code. Prof. Sundar has been named in a complaint by the wife of Shamnath Baghel, who was killed by Maoists last in Nama village of the Maost-hit Dantewada district.
“As per the complaint lodged by the victim’s wife, her husband had been getting threats from Maoists since he and other villagers had complained against Sundar in May for allegedly inciting innocent tribals against the government and seeking their support for Maoists,” claims Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range), SRP Kalluri. “Following the development, according to villagers, Sundar and others went in the village to allegedly threaten them not to oppose the Maoists,” he further added. Police also asserted that Prof. Sundar was using a fake name – Richa Keshav – while operating in Bastar. As of now, the Bastar Police has written to the respective Vice Chancellors of DU and JNU informing them about the undergoing inquiry against both the professors.
“It is absurd, bizarre, and patently malafide. I haven’t been in Bastar in months,” the 48-year-old activist professor said in her defense. Professor Nandini Sundar also indicted IG Kalluri of specifically targeting activists because he fears being implicated in cases of fake encounters and human rights violations that the activists have been fighting for years. She believes that Baghel’s wife was coerced into filing a complaint against her.
Nandini Sundar is an award – winning Professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, and has many publications in her name. Her latest book, The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar, was released in October this year. It was on Prof. Sundar’s petition that the Supreme Court in 2011 ordered the disbanding of Salwa Judum, a state-backed militia formed to take on the Maoists in Chhattisgarh.
This is not the first time that Delhi University professors have come under the scanner of police. In February this year, a former Arabic professor of Zakir Hussain Delhi College, SAR Geelani, was charged with sedition, criminal conspiracy, and unlawful assembly, before that an English Professor of Shyaam Lal College was arrested in 2014 for having alleged links with Maoist.
Featured Image: infoysissciencefoundation.com