The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Chhattisgarh government to give advanced notice of four weeks to social activist Nandini Sundar and others before proceeding against them in the case relating to the alleged murder of a tribal man in Naxal-affected areas of the state.
The apex court also took on record the assurance given by the state government that Sundar and others, who have been booked for the alleged murder, will not be arrested or interrogated as of now.
A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Adarsh Goel granted liberty to Sundar and others to approach the court if any notice of arrest or interrogation is served upon them.
“ASG Tushar Mehta says that Nandini Sundar, Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari and others will not be arrested or interrogated. State government is directed to give four weeks advance notice before proceeding in the case. Liberty to petitioners to approach court after the notice is served,” the bench said. The bench, however, refused to entertain Sundar’s plea that the state should first take permission from the court before arresting or interrogating her and other activists in the case.
“No, they can’t be stopped perpetually. If there is a crime, they need to proceed. It is their statutory right. They will first give you notice and then they can proceed,” the bench said, adding that the activist can approach the court after the notice is served.
The bench also did not take on record ASG Mehta’s statement, saying when a statement is already been made that they would not be arrested, then nothing else is required.
“We don’t need to look at everything. You have made a statement. Now it is on record. You will have to give advance notice. As and when you want to proceed, show us the material,” the bench said.
On November 7, Delhi University Professor Sundar, JNU professor Archana Prasad and others were booked on charges of murder of a tribal villager in the insurgency-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.
At the outset, senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for Sundar and other activists showed some newspaper clips and said that IG Bastar Range K Sivarama Prasad Kalluri has recently made a statement that Nandini Sundar and others will not be able to enter Bastar and people will stone them. He said this should not be allowed.
Mehta countered the argument claiming whenever there is a hearing on the matter, there are news reports and if the court wants to take on record these materials, then it should also have a look at the records which the state government wants to submit to the court.
The bench, however, disposed of the application filed by Sundar and said if any notice is issued, then they have the liberty to approach the court.
The court had on November 11 taken on record the statement of Chhattisgarh government that no action will be taken against Sundar and others till November 15 and had asked the state to find a peaceful solution to the Naxal problem there and adopt a “pragmatic” approach towards life. Police had claimed that alleged armed Naxals had killed the villager, Shamnath Baghel, with sharp weapons on the night of November 4 at his residence in Nama village under Kumakoleng gram panchayat in Tongpal area, around 450 kms from Raipur. Baghel and some of others were spearheading protests against Naxal activities in their village since April.
In a first, women commandos to take part in anti-Naxal ops
For the first time, CRPF has deployed a team of women commandos in anti-Naxal operations in Jharkhand.
The 135 women belonging to the 232 battalion’s Delta company are currently undertaking operations under the close supervision of CRPF’s 133 battalion in Naxal-infested forests on the outskirts of Ranchi near Khoonti area.
Sanjay A Lathkar, CRPF IG of Jharkhand, said, “On October 17, a company of woman commandos was for the first time inducted in CRPF to counter Naxal insurgency in Jharkhand. They have started carrying out anti-Naxal operations”.
Neeraj Pandey, CRPF Commandment of 133 battalion, said, “The women are brave and currently undertaking first hand experience of anti-Naxal operation in forests outside Ranchi. They have been provided extensive training in CRPF academies specially for countering Naxals”.
“Since the induction of women commandos, the strength of our operation in Naxal-infested areas has increased two-fold,” Pandey said.
The women commandos are second to none and have been given training on a par with men. They are equally able to tackle the Naxal issue, he said.
“We wanted to serve our country and that is why we are here. We have resolved to eradicate the Naxal menace completely as it is not only harmful and fatal for people but also affecting the progress of the country,” said Shakti Tirkey, who is heading the 135 woman commandos.
“It was felt that to tackle women Naxals, there should be women commandos who must be equally capable of neutralising Naxals. The women commandos are well prepared and well groomed to face any
situation and hardships. There is no difference between a man or a woman commando,” said GVH Giri Prasad, DIG, CRPF.