Meet Nandini Sundar, the DU professor who is accused of having blood of adivasis on her hand

Born in 1967, Nandini Sundar is a professor of sociology at the Delhi School of Economics. She is also the wife of former The Hindu editor Siddharth Varadarajan, who is currently the founding editor of ‘The Wire‘. Nandini Sundar, who still writes for various platforms including her husband’s The Wire, is accused of a tribal man’s murder in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma.

In May 2016, under a fake name ‘Richa Keshav’, Nandini Sundar went to Maoist-hit Bastar along with JNU professor Archana Prasad and Joshi Research Institute’s Vineet Tiwari. She was accused of provoking the villagers against the government. It was claimed that the professors threatened to burn houses if villagers did not support Maoists.

In a letter to the VCs of JNU and DU, Bastar SP said that the Sundar and Prasad tried to instigate the villagers against the police by telling the villagers that their daughters and sisters would not be safe is police camps are set up in the villages.

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Letter by Bastar SP

Image courtesy @vivekagnihotri on Twitter

In the above letter, the villagers claim that they talked to Sundar and Prasad and spoke about how the Naxals in the village beat them up and loot their money and ration and harass them. The villagers claim that they are standing united against the Naxals and want the police camps in the village. However, Sundar, Prasad and CPM leader Sanjay Parate who was accompanying them told the villagers that the police and administration will do nothing for the villagers and if they do not help the Naxals, it will in turn only harm them. They urged the villagers to do as the Naxals as them to for their own betterment.

To this, Communist Party of India – Marxist’s Sitaram Yechury even came to the rescue and called the above letter ‘fake’ and called it ‘intimidating tactic’ and ‘curbing and suppressing opposition political parties’.

Later, she reportedly travelled to Nama in Sukma, one of the worst Naxal-affected districts, again as Richa Keshav, and held a meeting. Two days later, Shamnath Baghel, a tribal man, lodged a complaint with the police stating that Sundar (as Richa Keshav) and others asked villagers to not support the police and associate themselves with the Naxalites.

The complaint even mentioned that Baghel was warned of dire consequences for opposing the Naxalites. He mentioned that if he was killed, Sundar and others would be responsible. On 4th November 2016, Shamnath Baghel was murdered.

Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) SRP Kalluri said that Sundar and others were booked for murder, criminal conspiracy and rioting.

In May 2017, Podiyam Pandu alias Panda, a Maoist had surrendered to the Chhattisgarh Police, Panda had named Nandini Sundar, activist Bela Bhatia and other social activists meet Naxal commanders. According to police, Panda was also familiar with the urban network of Maoists and played a crucial role in arranging meetings between Maoist sympathisers from town with the ultras in the jungle. Panda had claimed he would drive around Sundar and others on a motorbike for meetings with top Maoists like Hidma, who is believed to have masterminded the killings of 25 CRPF jawans in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh’s Sukma last year.

As a mother of all ironies, after the raids conducted to crackdown on the ‘urban Maoists’ nexus, the very Nandini Sundar wrote in The Wire:

“Try as the government might, they will be unable to suppress their voices or use these arrests to chill others. The Emergency lasted two years, Modi’s undeclared Emergency might last longer; but terror finally fails. Democracy and the rule of law will eventually prevail”.

For someone who is accused of threatening tribals to not align themselves with the state and instead support Naxalites, it is indeed peachy for Sundar to write about ‘undeclared emergency’ and how the ‘rule of law’ will prevail. Perhaps for Sundar and the Leftist propaganda website The Wire, ‘rule of law’ refers to the law the Naxalites live by and ‘undeclared emergency’ means the state actively stopping the ultras from going about their ‘job’ as usual?


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