25th January 2013

We, the undersigned, are appalled at the conferment of the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service to SRP Kalluri, IGP of Chhattisgarh.  Mr Kalluri raped a tribal woman, Ledha Bai, when he was the SP of Sarguja District, ordered her gang-rape by his juniors, and then terrorized her and her lawyer when she decided to file a complaint against him.  Coming on the heels of the award of the President’s Gallantry medal to Ankit Garg, who had sexually assaulted another tribal woman in his custody, Soni Sori, it appears that sexual violence against women by the police is well tolerated, and even decorated, by the government. Is it any wonder then, that we are witnessing a spiraling increase in crimes against women?

Ledha Bai is a tribal woman who was married to Ramesh Nagesia, a member of the CPI(Maoists).  Under advice from the police, she convinced her husband to surrender himself to the police. But, the police team, lead by the then-SP of Sarguja, Mr. SRP Kalluri, went to the pre-assigned meeting place and shot the unarmed Ramesh Nagesia dead, in front of his wife Ledha.  Ledha was allowed to live, but with the caveat that she would not tell anyone about this episode.  However, a few days later, Ledha, her 2 year old child and her parents were rounded up and taken to the police station. There, Ledha was stripped and raped by Mr. Kalluri, and green chillies were inserted into her vagina in front of her parents and daughter.  Under orders from Mr Kalluri, SPO Dhiraj Jaiswal and others gangraped her in police custody for about 10 days.  All this has been documented by several fact-finding teams and was also corroborated by Ledha’s statement in front of a magistrate.

When Ledha tried to lodge a complaint against Mr. Kalluri, she and her father were intimidated to the extent that they had to withdraw the complaint, and instead, false charges were filed against the lawyer who had helped her file the complaint.

Mr. Kalluri is well-known for the reign of terror he let loose in Sarguja district as its SP, under the pretext of fighting Maoists.  Extra-judicial killings were frequent, such as the one of Narayan Khairwar, and anyone who raised a voice against this was victimized.  Even a Rozgar Yatra led by the eminent economist Jean Dreze was subjected to a  lathi-charge, on account of being constituted of suspected Maoists.

Later on, Mr. Kalluri was transferred to Dantewada as Senior Superintendent of Police.  His authoritarian rule continued there, and activists and ordinary tribals were subjected to endless harassment under his orders.  Himanshu Kumar, a well-known Gandhian activist opposing Salwa Judum, had his ashram demolished and was forced to flee from Dantewada.  Mr. Kalluri held a press conference announcing the well-respected international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders, were helping Maoists.  In another press conference, he announced that Lingaram Kodopi, a 20 year old journalism student in NOIDA who had addressed public meetings in Delhi talking about the reign of terror in Dantewada under Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt, was in fact a spokesperson for the CPI(Maoist) and had masterminded a Naxalite attack in Dantewada while sitting in Delhi.  Linga’s aunt, Soni Sodi, another outspoken tribal woman, was harassed by having multiple false cases lodged against her, and her husband arrested in another false case.  Any tribal activist, other than those working for the ruling party, were arrested and thrown into jail.  Consequently, CPI was forced to write a letter of protest to the Prime Minister, complaining of the witch hunt of their party workers under Mr. Kalluri’s reign, more than a dozen of whom were arrested and many of whom still continue to languish in jail. Kartam Joga, an elected Janpad member of the CPI, who had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against Salwa Judum, was similarly picked up on spurious charges and has just been released after 29 months in prison.

In March 2011, SPOs torched three villages in Dantewada district. As Swami Agnivesh was attempting to deliver relief to these villages, police sealed off these areas and attacked the convoy along with Swami ji and accompanying journalists.  The uproar created in the wake of this incident forced the Chhattisgarh government to transfer Mr. Kalluri out of this area.

In view of these crimes committed by Mr. Kalluri, we are unable to understand what constitutes meritorious service in the eyes of our government.  We demand that the medal be immediately withdrawn.

Signed by –

Shabnam Hashmi, Social Activist

Sudha Bharadwaj, Advocate

Shalini Gera, Activist

Nandini Sundar, Academic

Himanshu Kumar, Gandhian activist

Indira Chakravarti

Bela Bhatia, Academic

Kalpana Mehta

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feminist and human rights activist, Mumbai

Vrinda Grover, Advocate

Ram Punyani, Scientist and Activist

Mansi Sharma, Activist

Naish Hasan, Activist, Lucknow

Sheba George, Activist, Gujarat

Mahtab Alam, Activist and Journalist

Manisha Sethi, Activist-Academician

Sanghamitra Misra, Activist-Academician

Syed Zafar Mehdi, Journalist

Dr. John Dayal, All India Christian Council & Member, National Integration Council, GoI

Ahmed Sohaib, Activist-Academician

Aslam Khan, Activist, Delhi

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL

Navaid Hamid, member, Member, National Integration Council, GoI

S R Darapuri, former DGP Police

Annie Raja, National Federation of Indian Women

Zakia Soman, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan

Zulaikha Zabeen, Journalist, Raipur

Sucheta De, AISA

Asad Zaidi, Three Essays Collective

Vinay Bhatt, Activist

Shaheen Nazar, Senior Journalist

Harsh Dobhal, Human Rights Law Network (HRLN)

Kavita Krishnan, All India Progressive Women Association (AIPWA)

Reena Philipm, Activist, Kerala

Reny Ayline, NCHRO

Purva Bhardwaj, Activist and Researcher

Prof. Apoorvanand, Delhi University

Kumar Sundaram, CNDP

Lateef Mohd Khan, CLMC, Hyderabad

Jay N Jayram, Researcher and Journalist

Seema Mustafa, Senior Journalist

Dilip Simeon, Academician

Aijaz Zaka Syed, Writer and Columnist

Prakash K Ray, Researcher

Irshadul Haque, Editor, Naukarshahi.in

Iftikhar Gilani, Senior Journalist

Seela Mahapatra & Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM

Prasad Chako

Utkarsh Sinha

Jawed Naqvi, Senior Journalist

Vineet Tiwari, Gen Sec, M P PWA

Meera Ahmed, University of Delhi

1. Fact finding report on Ledha’s custodial rape http://www.hrsolidarity.net/mainfile.php/2006vol16no02/2491/
2. Affidavit filed by Swami Agnivesh in Supreme Court http://www.swamiagnivesh.com/SwamiAgniveshaffidavit.doc.pdf
3. Account of attack on Jean Dreze and Rozgar Yatra http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2213/stories/20050701006013300.htm
4. Letter from CPI to the PM http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2010-07-17/news/28409499_1_cpi-general-secretary-maoists-s-r-p-kalluri