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Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)
Friday, 03 March 2017 06:23

At Last Some Action against Bastar IG SRP Kalluri

THE democratic forces have welcomed the actions taken by the government of Chhattisgarh announcing the appointment of P Sundararaj, IPS as DIG of the newly-created Dantewada Range. Bastar IG Sri SRP Kalluri has been asked to proceed on long leave. It follows on the heels of the appearance of senior state government officials before the National Human Rights Commission on 30 January 2017. 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.

Taking cognizance of media reports and multiple complaints and submissions from WSS and other human rights groups, the NHRC conducted its own investigation in March 2016 into complaints of mass rapes and sexual violence against Adivasi women by police forces during search and combing operations in the remote villages of Peddagellur, Bellam Nendra and Kunna.

The NHRC investigation team met and recorded the statements of 16 women who had filed FIRs of rape, sexual assault and physical violence. The team also looked into the systematic hounding and intimidation of activists, lawyers and media professionals who were bringing these incidents to light, by the police and vigilante groups under the direct patronage of IG Sri Kalluri. A follow-up investigation in January 2017 recorded the statements of 20 more women also filed FIRs of sexual violence ranging from mass rapes to sexual assault of minor girls and pregnant women.

In its landmark order of 7 January 2017, the NHRC held the state government vicariously responsible for the egregious violations of human rights in Bastar. The strongly-worded order validated the contention that sexual violence was being used as a weapon in the state’s “war against Maoists” in Bastar. The NHRC order also pulled up the state government for its failure to provide the mandatory compensation to the complainants and for not registering cases under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

Defying strictures by the Supreme Court and the NHRC, Sri Kalluri publicly announced the launch of “Mission 2017”, an all-out vendetta against all those who were calling the state to account. Adivasi leaders, human rights activists, lawyers, academics, fact-finding teams and journalists were targeted, hounded and threatened by the police and police-sponsored vigilante groups. The intention was clearly to ensure that there are no witnesses to the gross violations of the human rights of Adivasi citizens in the war against Maoists in Bastar.

Senior officials of the state government finally appeared before the NHRC on 30 January 2017 to answer for their failure to ensure the rule of law in Bastar, even as human rights activists and citizens across the country rallied in support of researcher Bela Bhatia after she was attacked by goons from AGNI, a vigilante group promoted by the police. The closed-door meeting continued for several hours as complainants waited anxiously outside. While celebrating these developments, democratic forces should be 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 struggle for removal of para military forces and for restoring democratic atmosphere in the state should be continued. 

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