By Team FI
Women’s Groups in India have condemned the government awarding the President’s Medal to a senior police official, Ankit Garg who is alleged to have supervised Soni Sori’s custodial torture.
Ankit Garg, Superintendent of Police, Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, India has been named by the Adivasi school teacher, Soni Sori, in several lettersto the Supreme Court, of ordering and supervising her torture and sexual violence against her, on the night of October 8th, 2011 when she was in his custody at the Dantewada police station.
In a case which is now before the Supreme Court, Soni Sori has written that while she was in police custody in Dantewada police station, she was stripped before the Superintendent of Police, Ankit Garg, and given electric shocks under his directions. Furthermore, he ordered three police personnel to “punish her” by sexually torturing her for disobeying his commands to name well-known social activists, such as Swami Agnivesh and Medha Patkar, as Naxal supporters.
An independent medical examination carried out by the Government hospital in Kolkata under the direction of the Supreme Court has confirmed her sexual torture by recovering stones embedded in her private parts. This prompted the Supreme Court to reach the conclusion that she is clearly unsafe within the reach of Dantewada police, and needs to be transferred to the Raipur Central prison.
Women’s rights activists believe that this is no longer a case of mere allegations against the police, but there is also solid evidence by a government medical team to support her charges.
As Soni Sori, the victim of this heinous torture languishes in the Raipur Central Jail, with a deteriorating health condition, and waits for her case to be listed in the Supreme Court, women’s teams who have been taking up the case of her torture have been refused permission to meet her. She is still under the custody of the same state police has that inflicted this torture on her.
There can be no excuse for torture and sexual violence in the name of anti-Naxal or counter-insurgency operations. To confer awards on a person accused of such heinous acts diminishes the respect and honour usually associated with a gallantry award.
excerpts from the press statement issued by Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), India.