I had to flee Bastar because of Kalluri

SRP Kalluri being invited for a lecture in IIMC, a reputed school of journalism that is funded by the government, is not just another event and has more than what meets the eye

NH Photo by Vishwadeepak
NH Photo by Vishwadeepak

Himanshu Kumar

I first heard of Kalluri when his name was mentioned in the rape case of a tribal woman called Ledha. Ledha had named Kalluri as an accused in her statement in front of the Magistrate. The case is still pending in Surguja. When Kalluri was appointed DIG of Dantewada, my friends had warned me about him. They asked me to be wary of him as he had little regard for the law and was very vindictive—attacking his critics in every possible way.

At that time, we were living in a village called Nendra, near Sukma in Chhattisgarh, and were trying to rehabilitate the tribals in their own villages. Many villages there were burnt by government security forces during the growing influence of Salva Judum.

The first thing SRP Kalluri did after taking charge of his office was to arrest our tribal activist Sukhnath by accusing him of being a Maoist. Later, after two years, the court dropped all charges against Sukhnath and released him.

In my ashram, there were six rape victims who were raped by police officers and leaders of Salva Judum. The day these girls had to go to the court for hearing of the trial, Kalluri gathered many hooligans in Dantewada and made it literally impossible for these girls to even reach the court.

That very day, Kalluri sent the police to our organisation and one of our leading social worker, Kopa Kunjam, was picked up and taken to the police station. Kunjam was thrashed brutally the whole night; so was High Court lawyer Alban Toppo.

Kalluri planted false stories in newspapers about our organisation such as that we take money from foreign sources and that we provided monetary support to the Naxalites. At that time, I had laughed off these allegations and said Kalluri has to decide first who gives money to whom—we to the Naxalites or the Naxalites to us!

Later, Kalluri allegedly got a woman from our Ashram, Sodhi Sambo, kidnapped and blamed me for it. And, he got fake news spread across the media that I was absconding.

In fact, I did have to flee Chhattisgarh in 2009 after I was told one night by my sources that I was on the top of the hitlist to be eliminated.

Just as how I was victimised and forced to leave Bastar, Kalluri used the same methodology to harass human rights lawyers Shalini Gera and Isha Khandelwal. In fact, Kalluri arranged the assault on journalist Malini Subramaniam so that she would also leave Bastar.

In the case of Bela Bhatia, Kalluri himself accepted his role through his tweet. When Kalluri was transferred, he tweeted “Bela wins”. The photo which showed Kalluri, a police officer with such a bad repute, shaking hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gone viral.

Stories about his supposed closeness with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval keep flashing in the media every now and then.

Now, Kalluri being invited for a lecture in IIMC, a reputed school of journalism that is funded by the government, is not just another event and has more than what meets the eye.

This could be an indication that in the near future Kalluri may be given a special assignment at the Centre. And, the responsibility may be to intimidate and silence those activists and organisations all over the country who raise their voices for human rights. This way, the path would be cleared for domestic and foreign investors who can go ahead with mining in tribal regions without any hassle or protest.

The author is a noted Gandhian activist. He ran ‘Vanvasi Chetna Ashram’ in Dantewada for 18 years in Chhattisgarh.

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece and the views are the writer’s own.

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Published: 20 May 2017, 9:01 PM