After days of drama and confusion, the Chhattisgarh government on Tuesday moved controversial IG S R P Kalluri out of Bastar and attached him to police headquarters in Raipur without any charge until further notice.
This order came days after Kalluri, who is under fire from the NHRC and activists over alleged human rights violations, was asked to go on medical leave. Even as CM Raman Singh tried to paint his departure from Bastar as a medical emergency, the IG himself said that he “had been asked to go on leave by the government”. On Monday, three days after his three-month leave began, Kalluri returned to Bastar and said that he was medically fit. He also called DG AN Upadhyay and sought a fresh posting.
On Tuesday morning, senior government officials confirmed that he had been attached without charge to PHQ in Raipur, adding that the “government had not taken kindly to the IG’s actions.”
The 46-year-old officer, who hails from Andhra Pradesh and joined the force in 1994, has earned himself both praise and brickbats. In 2000, when Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh became separate states, Kalluri was allotted the latter cadre.
He first rose to prominence when he was posted to Surguja in north Chhattisgarh in 2006, then in the throes of Maoist violence. Kalluri’s supporters say that he was one of the primary reasons Maoists were driven out of the area. Detractors, however, claim that in north Chhattisgarh, the Maoists did not exert the support or influence as in Bastar.
His tenure in Surguja, however, was not without controversies. Kalluri faced accusations of orchestrating attacks on activists in the region. In 2005, as SP Balrampur in Surguja range, a team of activists on a Rozgar Adhikar Yatra, including economist Jean Dreze, were lathicharged by the police. Kalluri also faced charges of rape by a tribal woman, who alleged that the police had killed her husband, who was a Maoist, in cold blood after convincing her to get him to surrender. The victim withdrew her case in court later.
Kalluri’s tenure in Bastar has been no less controversial. He has openly backed the Salwa Judum, banned by the Supreme Court, and has consistently used several platforms to call activists, researchers and journalists that question police narratives as “Maoist sympathisers” or “whitecollar Naxals”.
Kalluri was SSP Dantewada when there were allegations that security forces burnt homes and raped three women in the villages of Tadmetla and Morpalli in Sukma, which at the time police said was done by the Maoists.
In 2016, however, a CBI report to the Supreme Court said that it was security forces that burnt 160 homes in Tadmetla. Kalluri later said that given the heat during the operation, held in March, and the exchange of fire, it was possible that the homes caught fire.
But despite pressure from several quarters, the state consistently backed the officer. Twice, Kalluri has received gallantry awards, despite vocal protests by human rights activists. In 2007, as SP in Surguja, he was conferred the police gallantry medal, and in 2013 he was conferred the President’s Gallantry Medal.
Kalluri was removed as SSP Dantewada shortly after the Tadmetla incident. He then came to Bastar in June 2014 as IG. The year 2016 saw a record high of 135 Maoists killed in Bastar. Since he took over, there have been over 350 surrenders each year, the highest being in 2016 at 1,210.
In 2016, only three per cent of those who surrendered were found fit to be considered Maoist cadre according to the screening and rehabilitation committee set up by the state government.