The Chhattisgarh police probe team returned to the state without making an effort to talk to Umar Khalid, who SRP Kalluri says may be part of the plot to attack on Soni Sori.
New Delhi: Although Bastar Inspector General of Police SRP Kalluri had on Sunday accused JNU student Umar Khalid, at present in judicial custody on sedition charges, of possibly being a part of the plot to attack Adivasi rights activist and Aam Aadmi Party leader Soni Sori in Chhattisgarh, a police team from the state, in Delhi to investigate the incident, returned without making any effort to question Khalid. The Special Investigation Team (SIT), led by Additional SP (Bijapur) Kalyana Elesela, was in Delhi to probe the attack on February 20 on Sori, who is currently being treated in Apollo Hospital.
Sori was on her way from Jagdalpur to Geedam when three unidentified youth attacked her and applied a grease-like substance on her face. The liquid did not disfigure Sori but caused a burning sensation on her face. She was first admitted to a hospital in Jagdalpur and was later air-lifted to Delhi.
No mention of Umar in SIT report
The Chhattisgarh police team subsequently reached the national capital to record Sori’s statement but chose not to do so while she was being treated. According to The Indian Express, in a report to Kalluri, Elesela said, “The team met the doctor who is treating Ms Sori and it was found that she was never in a critical state as reported in the media. She is under treatment to prevent any infection on her face and does not require any plastic surgery. She was admitted with irritation caused due to some unknown substance. The traces of the substance (were) sent for forensic analysis by police earlier. It was unusual that after the substance was wiped off the face at Gidam and Jagdalpur, she appeared with dark black substance on her face when she reached Delhi. However, the doctor advised that a final opinion can be given only on completion of treatment.”
He went on to add that the SIT will speak to Sori after she is discharged from hospital. “The doctor had no objections in letting the team meet Ms Sori. It is important to speak to the victim to reconstruct the incident and to establish the leads found in investigation so far. However due to unwarranted pressure by advocates, colleagues and co-workers of Ms Sori that she is in isolation and still under shock, the team deemed fit to wait till the discharge of Ms Soni.”
It is pertinent to note that Elesela’s report makes no mention of Umar’s involvement in the attack on Sori. Contrary to the report, Kalluri has claimed that the attack on Sori was a “conspiracy” and that Umar could be one of those behind it.
“Umar Khalid, who shouted anti-India slogans and pro-Pakistan slogans in JNU Delhi, who is in jail on charges of sedition, mentioned the attack on Soni Sori and the (Jagdalpur) Legal Aid Group. CPI (Maoist) spokesperson Vikalp in his press note on February 21, has also mentioned the smearing of ‘khallikh (black ink)’ on Soni Sori and the attack on (journalists) Malini Subramainam and Alok Putul, which shows that the Soni Sori incident has been conducted because of a conspiracy, and it is essential to expose the case… The investigation is being conducted scientifically and soon, the criminal conspiracy will be unearthed,” Kalluri said in a press release.
Umar had mentioned the atrocities on Sori and Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group while addressing students on the JNU campus before his surrender. However, the actions of the SIT in Delhi seemed to belie Kalluri’s belief as it made no attempts to meet Umar.
The Wire reached out to Kalluri to know why no attempt was made by the SIT to get in touch with Umar or his interrogators, but the officer said he would not like to add anything to what was contained in his press statement.