Soni Sori. This name belongs to a woman whose story should be common knowledge for what she has had to suffer at the hands of the state administration as well as her tireless work for rights of tribals in Chhattisgarh.
Soni Sori’s home has been a conflict-ridden state for more than a decade now. First the tribals were pressured, threatened and tortured to join a war against the Indian government by those calling themselves Maoists. Since state action began, the tribals are also being targeted by police authorities and reports of brutal action and atrocities have dotted the news media for years now.
Sori is a living example of a tribal targeted by the police for no other reason than suspicion and conjecture. Sori was a teacher at a government-run school which housed many orphans whose parents had been killed by the Salwa Judum initiative (UPA government’s brainchild that allowed the formation of a tribal vigilante group to hunt down tribals who supported Maoists). Sori was picked up from her school and eight cases slapped against her in 2011.
Soni Sori was charged of conspiracy, sedition, waging war against the state and those related to contributing to terrorist activity. She was also accused of raising funds for terrorist activity in one of the eight cases she is fighting in Dantewada. She has been acquitted in six of the eight cases against her.
Her journey of the last five years is that of multiple rounds of courts, vicious attacks against her personality and her decision to join politics to give voice to the tribals’ needs. She was attacked again this year in February, her face painted with a black, acid-like substance and threatened with worse if she does not stop her relentless campaign to highlight the plight of the tribals in Chhattisgarh.
Two months after the attack, her skin not fully healed yet she is back in the open demanding action against those wanting to stop her.