Controversial cop Kalluri vs human rights defenders

Aritry Das
Apr 20, 2017 · 5 min read

Bastar IG SRP Kalluri, who was sent away on medical leave five days ago, has been appointed to a post in the Raipur police headquarters (PHQ) without any charges, ANI reported on February 7.

This comes a day after he returned to Bastar and placed a call to DGP A N Upadhyaya, asking for a fresh posting.

SRP Kalluri, who has been accused for human rights violations by lawyers and activists, was granted a thee-months’ medical leave for kidney transplant just a day after P Sundar Raj was appointed DIG of Dantewada range. Raj’s appointment order on Wednesday came with the clarification that all seven Bastar districts would be under his purview, according to The Indian Express.

Earlier ANI reported Kalluri “being on leave for a month due to a heart blockage operation.”

But Kalluri himself said “he was under orders to go on leave”, contradicting the government version (Indian Express). Kalluri’s message to a select group of journalists on Whatsapp was revealed on social media.

Kalluri’s leave was preceded by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) summoning him on January 16 to testify on a case of atrocities against tribal women of Bastar. The officer failed to show up “on account of health reasons”, reported Scroll.in .

The sexual assault of more than 30 Adivasi women by Chattisgarh police personnel in Bijapur district was reported by The Indian Express in November 2015.

Complaints by human rights activists led to a fact-finding mission by the NHRC, which on January 7, 2017, indicted the security forces for the rape and sexual assault of 16 Adivasi women in 2015-’16. The NHRC has also directed the administration to record the testimonies of 14 more women.

The recent events began with the three First Information Reports (FIRs) by tribal women which were registered with the help of social-scientist and activist Bela Bhatia and other activists. It was followed by inquiry and investigations by the Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) which even revealed a gang rape. But since then Bhatia has been in a tug-of- war with the administration as she was the main complainant in the FIR, according to The Hindu.

According to media reports, on January 23, a group of men barged into Bhatia’s rented house in Chhatisgarh’s Parpa village to make her leave and threatened to burn the house down if she did not leave within 24 hours.

In spite of filing FIRs and providing evidence of the attack, the police has not made any arrests so far, Bhatia told Indian Cultural Forum. However, the government has promised to provide protection for the activist.

Bhatia has been living in Bastar despite many alleged threats from the police and goons to evacuate the village. She is conducting extensive research on the situation in Bastar, especially adivasis, who are caught in the crossfire between the Maoists and the State.

Bela Bhatia speaks to Indian Cultural Forum after the attack on her house in January 2017:

In addition, advocate Piyoli Swatija has reported brazen behaviour from Kalluri when she contacted him to discuss Bhatia’s safety. She wrote in Dailyo.in:

‘Concerned for Bela’s security, I sent the following SMS to IGP Bastar Kalluri: “Mr. Kalluri, please ensure that Bela Bhatia is not hounded out of her residence. The law of the land applies to Chhattisgarh too. Piyoli, Advocate”‘

Piyoli’s exchange with Kalluri over texts. Source: http://www.dailyo.in/

Kalluri’s record has not been very clean with a number of complaints registered and unregistered against him time and again. In November 2016, the NHRC had summoned Kalluri over alleged hostility and abuse of power against human rights defenders. The statement by NHRC:

“The Commission is deeply disturbed by the state of affairs in the State of Chhattisgarh over last one year or more and is of the view that the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Chhattisgarh and Shri S.R.P.Kalluri, IGP, Bastar Range should appear in person before the Commission 30.11.2016 at 11.00 am with all reports to explain the allegations made against the police and administration in the press media and by human rights defenders.”

A discussion on Kalluri and Human Rights violation:

The instances of complaints of human rights violation and atrocities against the tribal people are ample and have been reported over the years without much tangible outcome from the part of Chattisgarh Government.

Ledha Bai, a tribal woman, said she was raped in police custody and threatened by police to kill her after they had already killed her husband in front of her on suspicion of being a Maoist. Her statement against Kalluri in 2007 was:

“When I reached the Shankargarh police station, I saw Kalluri sahib who, upon seeing me, asked if I knew who he was. Then I said, “You are Kalluri Sahib. I made my husband surrender before you and you got him shot.” Then Kalluri slapped me twice. I was carrying my daughter. I fell on the ground with my daughter. Kalluri asked me to take off my clothes. When I refused, two policemen twisted my father’s arms and made him stand up, and started beating him. They beat my father mercilessly. Then Brijesh Tiwari unfastened my saree and took off all the other garments. When I was resisting the taking off of my clothes, they started hitting my father forcefully. I took off my clothes. They completely stripped me. They stripped me. My child was wailing uncontrollably on the ground. Then Kalluri said, “Take her inside the room, I will interrogate her.” In my nude condition, they took me inside the room in the police station. Then Kalluri raped me inside the police station.”

In a 2011 interview, academic Nandini Sundar, who has been working in Bastar, said:

“The immediate consequence of speaking for the people of Chhattisgarh appears to be criminal charges, threats, and sustained harassment. Kalluri, along with other senior officers of the Chhattisgarh State police, have been meeting the Home Minister Rajnath Singh, giving press conferences defending their actions, filing cases against activists, and proclaiming loudly that activists are enemies for inciting the people of India.”

Although the cop is back in Bastar, Kalluri’s departure as IG has given temporary relief to people. But what newly appointed Sundar Raj, former SP of Naxal-affected Rajnandgaon district, would bring to the plate is yet to be revealed.

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