Issued a stinging summons by the NHRC in the case of a murder FIR against activists Nandini Sundar and Archana Vijay, the Chhattisgarh Chief Secretary and Inspector General of Police, Bastar, S R P Kalluri look unlikely to appear before it.
Chief Secretary Vivek Dhand flew to the US on Friday with Chief Minister Raman Singh on a 10-day trip to woo investors. Hours earlier, senior officials said, Kalluri was taken to hospital on complaints of discomfort, and has since been transferred to a private Visakhapatnam hospital with kidney dysfunction. He is said to be in ICU.
Special DG D M Awasthi said a request had been made for another IG to take over Kalluri’s charge in his absence.
The NHRC had asked the Chief Secretary and Kalluri to appear before it on November 30. Citing media reports, it had said that the murder of the tribal, Samnath Baghel, in which Sundar and Vijay had been named, appeared to have no connection with their visit to Bastar. “… and, therefore, it has been alleged that they have been framed in a mala fide manner by police to settle scores”.
Before Dhand left for the US, the state government issued orders appointing N K Aswal as Acting Chief Secretary in his absence, till December 4. On that day, Ajay Singh, Additional Chief secretary and the seniormost after Dhand, will take over. It is likely that Aswal will attend the NHRC summons, officials said.
Several bureaucrats told The Sunday Express that there were lengthy discussions on whether Dhand should stay behind and appear before the NHRC, given the tenor of its summons. “It was also felt that there are three senior officers who have been staunch backers of IG Kalluri, including the Chief Secretary, and so he should be answerable to the commission. However, the loophole in the summons is that while it calls for IG Kalluri by name, it does not do so similarly for the Chief Secretary. So the state government’s reading is that it is not violative of the summons to send the Acting Chief Secretary,” a senior officer said.
Asked what would happen to the NHRC order regarding Kalluri, Awasthi said, “We will look into whether someone else can go in his stead, and then a call will be taken.”
Kalluri was first taken to a hospital in Jagdalpur late on Thursday night. In the morning he was referred to the hospital in Visakhapatnam. Special DG D M Awasthi said Kalluri was “seriously unwell”. “IG Kalluri has problems in both the kidney and the heart. He is undergoing dialysis as well. Doctors have said they are first looking to flush the kidney, and then will take steps to remedy issues in the heart, He is stable, but in ICU,” Awasthi said.
Given the time it would take for Kalluri to return to service, a letter has been written to the government asking for another IG to be given additional charge, he added.
Sources said that late Saturday evening, orders were being finalised to give IG Bilaspur Vivekananda additional charge of Bastar.
A senior official said the developments could help the government “take the heat off” itself. “With IG Kalluri indisposed, it is very possible that once the Chief Minister comes back, a call is taken to give Vivekananda permanent charge of Bastar, given the demanding nature of that job. That would allow the government to move Kalluri out without any loss of political capital,” the official said.
The Opposition has been demanding Kalluri’s arrest and suspension for the past few months, accusing him of unleashing a reign of terror in Bastar.