Soni Sori is an Adivasi (indigenous) activist from the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. In October 2011, she was arrested on charges of aiding Maoist rebels, who are fighting an armed insurgency against state forces across Central India. Soni Sori has alleged that the Chhattisgarh police tortured and sexually assaulted her while she was kept in custody. A police official reportedly forced her out of her cell, stripped her, and gave her electric shocks, causing acute pain all over her body, head, and spine. Because of this treatment, she was unable to walk to the Dantewada court on the afternoon of 10 October 2011. A hospital in Kolkata examined her on 29 November 2011 per a court order; it reported that two stones had been inserted in her vagina and one in her rectum, and that she had annular tears in her spine. She was admitted to a hospital for treatment. While she has been released from solitary confinement, she is still being detained.
In early May 2013, a trial court in Dantewada town acquitted Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi, and 15 other persons accused of conspiring and participating in the attack against Congress leader Avadesh Gautam at Nakulnar in Chhattisgarh as the prosecution failed to establish any grounds for the charges against them. Soni Sori now stands acquitted in 5 out of the 8 cases filed against her.
Three cases against her are still pending. The most significant case relates to her being accused of acting as a courier and transferring funds of 1.5 million Indian rupees (US $300,000) from Essar to Maoist groups as “protection money" in September 2011. This case was deferred on 29 April 2013, and the next hearing date is unknown. She remains imprisoned in Jagdalpur Central Jail.
Advocate: Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD, Ret.)
Soni Sori has been RELEASED.
- AAP Leader Soni Sori Attacked: Soni Sori has suffered a chemical attack by two unknown assailants as she traveled to her home. Some local sources say the attack was meant to scare Sori, as she remains a vocal critic of police brutality (February 21, 2016, The Hindu).
- Police Threatening And Harassing Soni Sori’s Family, Says Relative. Soni Sori’s nephew, Lingaram Kodopi, has stated in a press conference that police are attempting to force Sori’s family to state the attack against Soni Sori was orchestrated by Sori herself, in order to gain sympathy (March 21, 2016, Press Trust of India).
- Front Line Defenders named Soni as the winner of the 2018 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk for the Asia region. (May 22, 2018)