By Maya Palit
Varsha Dongre, the Chhattisgarh prison official who recently opened up about the horrific allegations she had heard against security personnel in the state, was suspended from her position on Saturday.
Dongre’s Facebook post (written in Hindi) in the aftermath of the Sukma attack was immensely critical of the situation in Chhattisgarh, where she claimed that villages are burnt, people sent to prison under false cases, and adivasi women raped with the agenda of getting villagers to vacate entire tracts of land.
Apart from critiquing the displacement of villagers, her brutally honest post, which she later deleted, also commented on the regular abuse of women and young girls in the region: “I have witnessed 14- and 16-year-old tribal girls being stripped naked in police stations and tortured. They were given electric shocks on their wrists and breasts. I have seen the marks. It horrified me to the core. Why did they use third degree torture on minors? I have given directions for their treatment and necessary action.”
Immediately afterwards, the deputy inspector general at the jail said he was aware of an ‘objectionable comment on the Naxal issue’ and had ordered a probe. On May 6th, the director general of the police in Raipur confirmed that Dongre had been suspended and charge-sheeted, as she had apparently violated service rules. Another officer told The Hindu that the language in her post was ‘extremely offensive’.
Dongre herself hasn’t been available for comments, but her case is just one more instance where a whistleblower has been obviously targeted for revealing crucial information. Things might not improve for whistleblowers either, with a new set of rules for the Right to Information Act said to be on their way, which is being protested against by RTI activists.