(In the pic: Indian Aam Admi Party activists hold posters during a rally against the gang rape and murder of a teenager in Kolkata on Jan. 5, 2014. Soni Sori, a party member and tribal activist, had a harmful chemical thrown in her face by assailants in Chhattisgarh state on Feb. 20. (Photo by AFP)
The assailants should be brought to justice, says priest.
Jagdalpur: (UCAN –
A church official in India's central Chhattisgarh state has expressed shock at the chemical attack on an activist, who has been working for the social and political rights of tribal people.
Two unidentified assailants allegedly threw an acid-like chemical on tribal activist Soni Sori as she returned from Bastanar town to her residence in Geedam town on Feb. 20, local media reported. Officials in other reports said the chemical was "burnt grease lubricant."
Sori was immediately hospitalized and then sent to New Delhi on Feb. 21 for better treatment.
"This is the first attack of this sort heard in the region in recent memory," said Father Abraham Kannampala, vicar general and spokesperson of Jadadalpur diocese.
He said it was "shocking" that people working for tribal groups and the poor are attacked publically without fear of repercussions.
"The attackers should be brought to justice to install confidence in the people who work for the welfare of the impoverished people in the region," Father Kannampala told ucanews.com on Feb. 22.
Sori is also a member of the centre-left Aam Admi Party (common people's party) and unsuccessfully vied for a parliamentary seat in 2014 for the Baster district, a Maoist-infected area.
Her political activism began after she was jailed in 2011 after being accused of aiding Maoists insurgents. Sori later accused police of sexually assaulting and torturing her during her imprisonment. In 2013 the courts acquitted Sori in six of the eight cases filed against her.
Sori and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi have linked the recent attack to her attempt of file a complaint against Bastar's top policeman, Inspector General of Police S. R. P. Kalluri.
The complaint they attempted to file was under a law meant to protect tribal and dalit people. Police however said Kalluri himself is a tribal person and so no case under the act could be filed against him.
"Now I fear for my life and the safety of my kids," Sori told media on Feb. 21.
Sori said he was getting constant "reminders from people that the police wanted to eliminate me. But I ignored them. Most of my fight has been against the police department in Bastar," she told media.
The inspector general declined to comment when ucanews.com contacted him via telephone on Feb. 22.