Soni Sori’s Urgent Update from Hunger Strike in Konta, Chhattisgarh

Isha Khandelwal

A quick update from Soni, who is now in Konta, still on hunger strike, still not being allowed to go the village, and vows to not break her fast till she enters the village of Gompad.

Here is what happened today –

At 2:30 pm today, other colleagues from AAP, Raipur reached Sukma, and the ASP met them all, and told them that they could all proceed to the village, but Soni will not be allowed to go there,since her security is “their responsibility.” She negotiated that she be allowed till Konta, and her colleagues will go on from there separately, while she will evaluate the situation afresh over there. This was agreed to by the ASP.

After being delayed at multiple check points, the whole entourage (of around 15 people) reached Konta at 6:30pm, where they were told that they all had to make an entry with the TI, Konta. There the TI informed them that since all were from AAP, they were ALL the responsibility of the state, and they would ALL have to be accompanied by a security force which was unavailable at the moment, so NONE of them could be allowed to proceed.
– The security force will not be available at any time today
-The security force is also unavailable tomorrow
– The security force maaaay be available day after, not certain.

The team said that they are prepared to wait. Soni reminded the police that she is still on hunger strike and will remain so, till she is allowed into the village. The state is welcome to delay her all they want.

As they left the thana, they were surrounded by a mob of 150 people, who were rather belligerent that “these outsiders only come when Naxalites are killed, but they are never there when others are victimized by Naxalites.” Soni tried to reason with them that she actually cares about all adivasis being killed, etc. but was not heard by them. (Soni called them “salwa judum folks”, and said they were gondi speaking. No leader among them was identified by her, but she suspects that the team was being delayed by the police only so that the police could mobilize these folks against her and the team.)

After much trouble, the team could make its way to the circuit house in Konta. There they were told that not a single room is available for them. So all 15 are now camping in the verandah. There is heavy security all around them.

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