Former Bastar inspector general of police SRP Kalluri on Saturday afternoon was greeted with chants of Jai Shree Ram as he walked up on the stage at the IIMC audotorium
The IPS officer, who had a controversial tenure as inspector general of police in Bastar, described his IIMC appearance as his ‘ launch ’ in Delhi .Earlier this year, the top cop had been transferred out of Bastar on allegations of human right’s violations and threatening journalists.
“Go to Bastar. There are 40 lakh people there. If more than five people say anything against me, I will quit. This is my launch in Delhi,” Kalluri, who was in Delhi to deliver a talk during the seminar on Nationalistic Journalism in Current Scenario: Media and Myth, said.
In the morning, chaos ensued outside at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication campus, located right next to JNU, as some students alleged they were not being allowed to enter. Amid heavy police security, students later protested outside the campus gates as the daylong seminar continued inside the IIMC campus.
IIMC director general KG Suresh had earlier brushed away criticisms over Kalluri’s invite.
“Why should I stop him? He is coming to an event that will see the presence of media personnel and they will question him,” Suresh in his address in the seminar.
Protesters outside the IIMC gate, meanwhile, held up posters and placards outside the IIMC gate that read ‘Kalluri go back’. They demanded that the IPS officer go on a ‘long leave’ till the completion of a National Human Rights Committee inquiry. There were around 20-25 police personnel on the campus on Saturday.
Accusing the organisers of not allowing students to attend the session, Dipankar Patel, a student, said, “We too want to know what this nationalistic journalism is. Let us enter, engage in dialogue.”
“We will oppose this forced saffronisation. We are just 15-20 in number but were not being to enter,” said Sachin Shekhar, another student. The students were also agitating against a yajna (a ritual done in front of a sacred fire, often with mantras), which kicked off Saturday’s daylong seminar.
One of the organisers told HT that the yajna was done at the start of the seminar, as per schedule. “Instead of lighting a lamp, we did a yajna. What is wrong in that?” he said.
The IIMC director general, too, defended the move.
“Because of the ritual, there was talk that secularism of the country was in danger. But people don’t know that in the past we have accommodated all religions,” Suresh said.
“Lighting lamps in an event, just like bhoomi poojas. Why not this?,” he added.
One of the organisers even went on to claim that most of the protesters were not students of the institute.
“Most of the protesters are external elements from JNU. Barely 2-3 students are from here. We don’t want this unnecessary chaos inside the venue,” said Praveen, one of the organisers.