Bastar: Duplicity Rules the Roost

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights finds the two notices and a warning issued to SRP Kalluri, and the transfer of SP Sukma, I.K. Elsela and RN Das SP Bastar as falling far short of their crime as officers of Law. The two notices apart from reprimanding them for attending a private function and making statements against the social media policy of the government, does not have anything for the threats advocated by them against citizens. As per the orders of the Chhattisgarh Government, RN Das has been transferred outside Bastar, to Baloda Bazar, while IK Elsela has been sent to State Intelligence Bureau in Raipur, which is scarcely a punishment posting.  Therein lies the problem.

At an inauguration of a private vehicle showroom on 2nd March 2017, I.K. Elsela in the presence of SRP Kalluri and RN Das, advocated that human rights activists ‘should be crushed under the vehicle’ and defended it as his freedom of speech.  Officers of Bastar Police have been quite candid in publicly declaring that anyone who criticizes the Police and whatever they do to accomplish Mission 2016, is an anti-national, a traitor. They have also been encouraging lumpens patronized by them to attack activists and reporters. Such open advocacy of homicide is part of that process. Let us recall that the combined attack by Police and the Vigilantes compelled many lawyers, reporters, social activists, and even traders who refused to do their bidding, to move out of Bastar. Those who could not move or did not do so, found false cases filed against them, were tortured and some remain imprisoned. Many others were threatened with accusation and arrest including academics teaching in Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. The carte blanche they enjoyed emboldened the Bastar Police to publicly scorn the Supreme Court’s castigation of Bastar Police for arson and rape, and burn effigies of the social and political activists who had petitioned the Court. This was a brazen incitement to violence against any Citizen who dared to question the Police’s methods and their version of events, in the war being waged against the Maoist led Adivasis.  It needs reiteration that the objective behind the war is to clear the forests off the Maoist led resistance against mining and mineral based industry, and to weaken the resolve of those elsewhere struggling non-violently. Anyone who questions this ‘development’ model falls foul of the Bastar Police.

What compounds the above crimes are the serious allegations of custodial rape, torture and killings against SRP Kalluri, apart from his stint as the IG Bastar during which cases of fake encounters, rape and molestation of women, false charges, open-ended FIRs, torture, overcrowding of prisons with Adivasis being held under fictitious ‘Naxal offence’, were propounded. As did vigilantism and hounding of anyone who dared to question police version, reported otherwise, defended Adivasis, provided legal assistance, helped them in their battle to get Police to file a FIR on their complaint of police atrocities etc.

When neither Rule of Law as in peace zones, nor Rule of War as warranted in the conflict zone, govern the conduct of the Government forces, not only is Truth a casualty, but far worse Citizens are then subjected to a brutish system, in defiance and violation of the Constitution. It’s a moot point whether our Constitution allows for such duplicitous and unjust system. To reprimand the perpetrators of heinous crimes rather than prosecute and convict them for their crimes, sends the signal that there’s a two glass system of law in India. For the same crime a functionary of the State instead of deserving a stringent punishment gets a rap on the knuckles, whereas a common person who suffered as a consequence of their acts, faces pain, loss and ruination.  It is this duplicity that governs Central and State Government’s prosecution of war against the Adivasis in Bastar which has spawned and will continue to spawn ‘gabbars in uniform’.

PUDR believes that the three officers of Chhattisgarh police in relation to the speech made at the showroom, are guilty of a criminal offence. Their act amounts to incitement of violence against human rights activists and encourages forms of unlawful vigilantism. It also flouts the Chhattisgarh Police Act 2007 which under chapter V clause 23(1) (a) says that is the duty of the police to protect and uphold the life, liberty & dignity of the citizen. We demand criminal prosecution against them and restoration of constitutional freedoms in Chhattisgarh.

Cijo Joy and Anushka Singh

Secretaries, PUDR

7th March 2017