Bastar IG Kalluri on long leave, not suspended

While Chhattisgarh Government has sent the controversial Bastar IG on long leave, isn’t there a case for suspension pending inquiry?

Photo courtesy: Youtube
Photo courtesy: Youtube

Saurav Datta

Two days after the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) read the riot act to the state’s Home Secretary PB Subramanian, Chhattisgarh Government sent the controversial Bastar IG of Police, SP Kalluri on long leave.

The IG, Chief Secretary Vivek Dhand and Spl DGP (Anti Naxalite Operation) DM Awasthi had failed to turn up before NHRC in Delhi on Monday, January 30 and it had been left to Subramanian to defend the state’s Human Rights record to the panel comprising former Chief Justice of India, HL Dattu, former Delhi High Court Chief Justice D Murugesan and SC Sinha, former head of the National Investigating Agency.

Kalyani Menon Sen of WSS (Women against Sexual Violence and State Oppression), activist Soni Sori and researcher Bela Bhatia, who too had reached the NHRC to record their statement were, however, not allowed to present their case to the panel.

While welcoming the move to send Kalluri on long leave, WSS in a statement on Thursday demanded the immediate suspension of Kalluri, RN Dash (SP, Bastar) and I K Elesela (SP, Sukma).

Elesela, former ASP Bijapur, is accused of heading operations in Bijapur district in 2015-2016 during which Adivasi women were subjected to sexual and physical violence by police personnel.

The WSS also demanded

  • The Government be restrained from promoting or rewarding officers accused of misdemeanour, violence and abuse of office.
  • Registration of cases under Section 166-A of the Indian Penal Code against police personnel who refused to record FIRs of sexual violence on complaints of Adivasi women in Chhattisgarh.
  • An inquiry into the activities of vigilante groups such as AGNI, Samajik Ekta Manch and others, including their source of funding and their nexus with the police and the administration.
  • Comprehensive guidelines for search and cordon operations
    undertaken by police, the CRPF, District Reserve Guard and others in Chhattisgarh.
  • Recommend that a status report be filed by the state of Chhattisgarh on action taken by the police on FIRs that have been lodged in connection with vigilante attacks on Ms. Malini Subramaniam, Ms Soni Sori and Ms Bela Bhatia.

Sen had earlier pointed out that “Defying strictures by the Supreme Court and the NHRC, Kalluri publicly announced the launch of “Mission 2017”, an all-out vendetta against all those who were calling the state to account. Adivasi leaders, human rights activists, lawyers, academics, fact-finding teams and journalists were targeted, hounded and threatened by the police and police-sponsored vigilante groups. The intention was clearly to ensure that there are no witnesses to the gross violations of the human rights of Adivasi citizens in the war against Maoists in Bastar.”

activists allege Kalluri has unleashed a reign of terror

Earlier this week at the Constitution Club in Delhi, Manish Kunjam had recounted how Kalluri and his Man Friday RM Das, the Superintendent of Police of Jagdalpur, unleashed a reign of terror- comprising sustained persecution campaigns against human rights defenders, staged fake encounters and fake surrenders. He also narrated how Kalluri, thumbing his nose at the Supreme Court’s ruling, is instrumental in funding vigilante groups which are nothing but a reincarnation of the now-banned Salwa Judum, albeit under the guise of new organisational names.

While slamming how the government and its agents blame “Naxalism” for everything from the lack of roads to child deliveries going wrong, Soni Sori wondered aloud how is it that the state is still building big roads and is increasingly deploying security and paramilitary forces in alarmingly large numbers.

Sori also decried a section of the government machinery’s vicious use of the trope “safedposh (white collar) Naxals” to try and silence the voices of conscientious dissenters and activists who are fighting tooth and nail to ensure that the rule of law prevails in Chhattisgarh.

“People—mainly Adivasis—are illegally incarcerated by the forces, so there is no way the courts can be approached for seeking bail, and when they return to their villages upon being released, are bumped off in fake encounters and extra-judicial killings,” she said.

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