The Big Story: Punishment posting

You can transfer SRP Kalluri out of Bastar, it seems, but you can’t stop the policeman from stoking controversy in the region. The former Inspector General of Police (Bastar), who became infamous for supporting a campaign to hound out and crush anyone who spoke up about abuse by the state, was transferred to Raipur a few months ago. Yet on Sunday it emerged that Kalluri had attended a private event in Jagdalpur and then made comments on a WhatsApp chat that the authorities considered derisive, prompting Chhattisgarh Director General of Police to issue two show-cause notices and a warning letter to the officer.

The event itself was mired in controversy since Sukma Superintendent of Police Indira Kalyan Elesala, who is said to be close to Kalluri, was quoted as having said, “Manvadhikaar karkartaon ko sadak par kuchal dena chahiye.” Human rights activists should be crushed on roads. Officials in Raipur, the state capital, transferred Elesala as well as Jagdalpur Superintendent of Police RN Dash out of their posts. This prompted Kalluri to make a joke about these orders on WhatsApp, posting a picture of himself with the other two and the caption, “three idiots clean bowled”.

The state’s DGP has now asked Kalluri to explain why he was attending a private function in Jagdalpur in violation of state government regulations. The second show-cause notice questions the WhatsApp post, which is also contrary to official rules. And the warning letter orders Kalluri, who has been posted without charge to the headquarters in Raipur, to inform senior officials whenever he leaves the station.

This public action against Kalluri is welcome, especially in light of the atrocious comments from the Sukma Superintendent of Police about human rights activists. Those words are clearly not idle banter. Under Kalluri, activists and journalists seeking to report on abuses by the state in its campaign against Maoists were vilified, intimidated and in some cases attacked.

But it is also worthwhile asking what exactly a punitive transfer actually accomplishes. No departmental proceedings were officially initiated against Kalluri, even though the National Human Rights Commission has summoned him after allegations of abuse of power. State authorities waited until a joke WhatsApp post to mandate that he explain himself whenever he leaves Raipur. The other two police officers at the event, meanwhile, have been given charge at other posts in the state, with no official censure. The show-cause notices may be a start, but Chhattisgarh authorities must be much more direct in cracking down on anyone who threatens to break the law, especially if they are tasked with upholding it.

The Big Scroll

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Anil Srinivasan tells us that we must learn the value of arts from an 18th century Tamil music legend named Muthuswami Dikshithar.

“Dikshitar was a natural innovator. His forays into crossover music – indeed, that is what they would have been called had music writers existed then – brought North Indian influences into the Carnatic classical sound, and the violin into the Indian classical stable. Most interestingly, they led to a set of compositions known as the Nottuswara, which borrow from Scottish, Irish and Celtic music.

Nottuswara is a set of 39 songs that is simple in construction but profound for what it represented. Dikshitar composed the songs with his younger brother, Baluswami, after taking the initiative to learn the violin from Western fiddlers and adapting it to South Indian classical music. How this was received in the late 18th century is left to conjecture – but it’s safe to say, it couldn’t have been easy.”