By Shikha Sreenivas
The Chhattisgarh government has made Bastar IG SRP Kalluri to take a long leave. According to ANI the leave is for medical reasons, due to a heart blockage surgery he recently underwent. But according to News-18, it is a ‘forced’ medical leave.
He told News-18 that, “It is government decision and I have nothing to say on it.” Kalluri has been the centre of criticism after activist Bela Bhatia was attacked. Some of these replies to Bela Bhatia are public, and they include messages like “f u”, “stop bitching” and “Maoists and their dogs will be thrown out of Bastar”.
He has also been accused of several human right violations. Reportedly, he had sent abusive messages to activists and journalists, who asked him to make sure Bhatia was safe. The Indian Express reports that he has even accused activists of being naxals. During the height of the JNU protests last year, Kalluri had claimed that the attack on Soni Sori was a “conspiracy”, and that the JNU student Umar Khalid is a part of the plot.
According to a statement from Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), has approved of the decision of the government. They report that these actions are a consequence of meeting of senior state government officials with the Nations Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on 30th January. The statement reads: “The NHRC had summoned these officials to answer for the apathy of the state government in responding to the egregious violations of human rights and vendetta against human rights defenders perpetrated by the police and police-sponsored vigilante groups encouraged and supported by the police under Sri Kalluri.”
The NHRC conducted its own investigation in March 2016 into complaints of mass rapes and sexual violence by police forces on adivasi women in their “combing operations” in the villages of Peddagellur, Bellam Nendra and Kunna. WSS says that the NHRC investigation recorded the statements of 16 women who had filed FIRs of rape, sexual assault and physical violence. The NHRC team also inquired into the allegations of harassment of activists, lawyers and media professionals by the police (and other vigilante groups under Kalluri) .
On 7th January, 2017, the NHRC held the Chhattisgarh government completely accountable for the several human right violations in Bastar. The NHRC government also inquired why the state government had not provided any of the compensation for the complaints under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.
“While celebrating these developments, we are sharply aware that this is only the first step in the long road to restoring peace, justice and the rule of law in Bastar. WSS will continue to mobilise public attention while pursuing our complaints and submissions in cases currently before the NHRC.
The WSS statement also contains several recommendations for the NHRC to further address the violations happening in Bastar. This report in Adivasi Resurgence details out several other allegations they and other human right groups have against him.
Kalluri failed to appear before the NHRC citing medical conditions. Reportedly, P Sunder Raj is taking Kalluri’s place as DIG Bastar, a position which was created in 2010 when 76 jawans or the CRPF were killed. Kalluri has been the DIG since then.