For those who keep a track of the ongoing ‘war’ between the security forces and the Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, inspector general of police SRP Kalluri is a known face. He is (in)famous for the strategies he employs to tackle the red army and his critics.
According to a profile published in this paper, the 1994 batch Indian Police Service officer’s gameplan to tackle the Maoists rests on five critical pillars: Surrender, arrests, encounters, development, and “empowering people”. As for critics, Mr Kalluri has only disdain and threats.
Last week, he threatened to arrest Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar and 10 others after booking them for the murder of a tribal in the state’s insurgency-hit Sukma district. But his plan was cut short after the Supreme Court said it was inclined to stay the FIR registered against Ms Sundar and others. This forced the Chhattisgarh government to say that it will not arrest them without giving advance notice. Mr Kalluri suffered one more setback when the family of the tribal man who was killed said that Ms Sundar and others were not involved in the incident.
Mr Kalluri did not take these setbacks kindly. So when HT’s correspondent asked for his comments ---- a proper journalistic practice ---- he threatened him with dire consequences. “Aap log aise karenge to hum aapko jaane hi nahi denge ..mere reference se aap gaye the…,” (If you all do like this, we will not let you visit …you went with my reference to Bastar),” a wounded Mr Kalluri told the correspondent, Ritesh Mishra.
This is not an empty threat. In Mr Kalluri’s Bastar, journalists have been at the receiving end of what activists say are persistent attempts by the local police to intimidate the media. Four local journalists have been arrested since last year while a visiting BBC newsman was forced to leave the district. Another was forced to flee the region after being accused of having Maoist links.
Mr Kalluri’s actions prove that he has scant regard for the Indian Penal Code, Constitution and human rights. But let’s not forget that the senior police officer can behave in this arbitrary fashion because he is allowed to do so by the Raman Singh government ---- and the Centre. By allowing policemen such as Mr Kalluri to become a law unto themselves and misuse their power, the Chhattisgarh government, as Ramachandra Guha aptly put it, is only displaying its undemocratic instincts.