The Supreme Court has decided that Delhi University professor, Nandini Sundar, professors from JNU and other Maoists cannot be arrested just yet in connection with the FIR filed against them for the murder of a tribal man in the insurgency-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh. The court has ordered the Chhattisgarh government to give the accused activists an advanced notice of four weeks before proceeding with the case.

A warrant had been issued against Maoists and DU and JNU professors Nandini Sundar, Archana Prasad and Vineet Tiwari after a complaint was filed by the deceased’s wife against the activists on November 7.

“Additional Solicitor General 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,” a bench led by Justice Madan B Lokur told Indian Express.

But the bench has rejected Sundar’s request that the Chhattisgarh government should first approach the court and take their permission before arresting or interrogating the activists and Maoists involved in this murder 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,” said the court, adding that the activist can approach the court after the notice is served.

JNU professor and gender rights activist, Nivedita Menon has launched a petition in favour of all the activists involved in the murder case. She has demanded an inquiry to be set up to investigate the way with which which the police are interfering with law and taking the liberty to frame researchers and activists to create an atmosphere of terror.

“The charges are patently fabricated, and follow a pattern of intimidation by the Chhattisgarh police every time evidence is released of their lawless prosecution of the war against the Maoists. Earlier this year, Sundar, Prasad, Tiwari and CPI(M) state secretary, Sanjay Parate were part of a fact-finding team that looked at the impact of Maoist violence and state excesses on ordinary villagers in Bastar, finding that they were victims of fake encounters, rapes, arrests, beatings, IED blasts, and killing of informers, implicating Maoists, police, and security forces,” wrote Nivedita in a column on an online liberal website called Kafila.

Sundar’s advocate Ashok Desai, who is speaking for all the activists, brought out some newspaper clippings and revealed IG Bastar Range S R P Kalluri’s statement which says that Sundar and other activists and Maoists are not allowed in the village, otherwise the villagers will throw stones at them. He condemned such a move.

However, Mehta debated such a stance, saying that during every hearing in this case, there are news reports and if the court is carrying them as reference then it should also consider the state’s record.

The court had recently taken the decision that no action will be taken against Sundar until yesterday and that the state should come up with solutions for the Naxal problems and a pragmatic approach to deal with it.

Police of the area have claimed that Shamnath Baghel, the murdered tribal man, was killed by armed Naxalites on the night of November 4 at his residence in Nama village under Kumakoleng gram panchayat in Tongpal area, around 450 km from Raipur. Baghel and some others were spearheading protests against Naxal activities in their village since April.

Picture credit- Infosys Science Foundation