Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Archana Prasad are among 10 people accused of murdering of a tribal villager in the Maoist-hit Sukma district of Chhattisgarh.
The list of the accused also included activist Vineet Tiwari and CPI-Marxist leader Sanjay Parate, who were named in a complaint filed by the wife of Shamnath Baghel. Shamnath was killed with sharp weapons by armed Maoists last Friday at his home in Nama village in Tongpal area.
"As per the complaint lodged by the victim's wife, her husband had been getting threats from Maoists since he and other villagers had complained against (Nandini) Sundar in May. Even armed ultras were referring to that complaint and anti-Maoist demonstrations while attacking Baghel on Friday," SRP Kalluri, Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range), was quoted saying to PTI.
Shamnath Baghel had been leading protests against Maoist activities in their village since April. In May, Baghel and other villagers had complained against Sundar, Prasad and others, accusing them of inciting tribals against the government and asking them to support Maoists. IG Kalluri also asserted that Sundar used a fake name, Richa Keshav, to dissuade the villagers who formed a security group named "Tangiya (axe) group" in April.
"Following the development, according to villagers, Sundar and others went in the village to allegedly threaten them not to oppose the Maoists," the IG said while adding that "…strongest possible action will be taken against those guilty after the investigation."
Sundar is a teacher at the sociology department of Delhi University and has recently written a book The Burning Forest: India's war in Bastar. Sundar has accumulated extensive experience while researching on Maoist insurgency. It was through her petition that the Supreme Court in 2011 ordered the disbanding of Salwa Judum, a state-backed militia formed to take on the Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The court said it was illegal and unconstitutional to deploy tribal youths as special police officers in Salwa Judum.
Historian and columnist Ramachandra Guha also tweeted in defence of Sundar and called the FIR against her "vicious and vindictive".
Professor Nandini Sundar is one of the bravest, and most decent, Indians I have known. The CG Govt's action shows their utter depravity— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) November 8, 2016