Salwa Judum Does Not Exist: Chhattisgarh Govt to SC

New Delhi
Salwa Judum Does Not Exist: Chhattisgarh Govt to SC
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
Chhattisgarh Government today told the Supreme Court that Maoist outfits and Naxalites were targeting buildings of schools, panchayats and hospitals and that anti-Naxal vigilante group Salwa Judum has become infructuous.

However, the petitioners, who have sought a direction to the state government to refrain from allegedly supporting and encouraging Salwa Judum, said though it (Salwa Judum) is in animated suspension, it has been revived under new name which the state government has never acknowledged.

These claims were made by the contesting parties in their affidavits filed before a bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar which has been monitoring the steps taken by the authorities to tackle the Naxal problem and Chhatisgarh Government's stand on disbanding of Salwa Judum.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on November 18.

The state government, which was earlier pulled up for not filing proper affidavit, said in the first nine month of the year, there were 134 encounters between Maoist and security forces in which 160 security personnel have been killed.


"From January to September this year there have been 134 encounters between Maoists and security forces in which 160 security personnel have been killed," the affidavit filed by advocate Atul Jha, the standing counsel for the Chhattisgarh Government, said.

It said, "One of the key components of the Maoist strategy is to destroy the infrastructure and the Maoist outfits and the Naxalites have destroyed 110 school buildings, 74 panchyat buildings and three hospitals".

On the issue of arrest of another petitioner in the matter, Kartam Joga, a Leftist leader on September 14, the affidavit said he was arrested in connection with April 6 incident when 76 CRPF personnel were killed in an ambush by Maoists.

However, sociologist Nandini Sunder, one of the petitioners, said she visited the Naxal-hit areas in the state and maintained that though Salwa Judum is in "animated suspension", it has been revived under new name, "Dandakaranya Shanti Sangharsh Samiti", which the state government has never acknowledged or punished its members for their illegal acts.

Further, villagers also refers to Special Police Officers (SPOs) as Judum when they carry out arson or killings under the guise of 'Operation Green Hunt'.

Chhattisgarh Government filed a comprehensive affidavit about the steps being taken by it in Maoist-affected areas on various issues as per the August 31 direction of the court.

In its affidavit, the state government stated that Sunder in her affidavit filed on October 19 has unmistakeably indicated that Salwa Judum movement does not exist and as such "existence of Salwa Judum as movement has become infructous".

The sociologist in her affidavit said the government is claiming that it is taking good care of camps but the camp residents were begging for an independent monitoring committee and implementation of rehabilitation plan.

"Nobody has been compensated for property losses," she claimed.

On Sunder's allegation that during her recent visit she was surrounded by the SPOs which the state government has claimed were on the way out, the affidavit by the state government said she was provided with security throughout her visit.

During the hearing on August 11, the bench had specifically asked the state government whether schools and ashrams in Maoist-affected areas were still being used for stationing central para-military forces as alleged by rights activists.

Responding on the issue, the state government said, "Due to certain administrative exigencies and lack of infrastructure about 31 schools are occupied by the security forces."

However, the academician claimed that "no school has been vacated and education is suffering despite the government's claim that alternate arrangements have been made".

Chhattisgarh Government gave details about the steps taken by it on the FIRs registered on the basis of the report of NHRC pointing out human rights violation by the members of Salwa Judum.

The state government spelled out the measures taken to implement the suggestions of the Planning Commission and rights activists who have approached the apex court.

The need for setting up a committee of eminent persons to monitor the action of the authorities in Naxal-hit areas which is a bone of contention between the state government and the activists, the affidavit said, had been taken care of.

The state government has constituted a unified command under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister and in accordance with the guideline of the Centre's representatives in the Planning Commission, Ministry of Home Affairs and two independent members from Dantewada-- Mahendra Karma (former MLA) and Bhima Manddavi (MLA) have been included in it.

Earlier, on February 18, Chhattisgarh Government had refuted allegations that it has appointed minors as Special Police Officers or had arms to civilians in its fight against Naxals.

The apex court had earlier expressed its displeasure over the state government's failure to mention the number of cases registered against Salwa Judum on charges of human rights violation in Maoist-hit tribal districts of the state.

The bench had said that the state government was "evasive" on it and that it has not stated how many schools and ashrams have been vacated from the occupation of central security forces.

The bench had also said if Chhattisgarh government was facing any problem, it should be stated before this court.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium had apprised the bench about the steps taken by the Centre in coordination with the state government for relief and rehabilitation of tribals.

He had said that the camps have been established for the affected people and forces were gradually leaving the schools and ashrams.

The state government had during the previous hearings maintained that Salwa Judum was dying out.

Subramanium had said that the ten flagship schemes of the Planning Commission for electrification, empowerment of tribal women, education for children and providing basic amenities to tribals have been implemented.

On the issue of investigation into criminal cases raised by the court, the SG had said attempts have been made but some difficulties were being faced by authorities as large parts of the affected areas are under the siege of Maoists.

Further, conditions have to be made conducive for taking back tribals to their villages as large portions were covered by landmines.

The SG had said that there was no outright solution possible to the problem and it has to be done keeping in view the future and every effort was being made in this regard keeping in mind the tribals' culture as they have umbilical connection with the forest areas.

The bench was hearing the PILs, filed by sociologist Sundar, historian Ramchandra Guha, former bureaucrat E A S Sarma and others, seeking a direction to the state government to refrain from allegedly supporting and encouraging Salwa Judum.

They had alleged that the conditions in Salwa Judum camps were bad and people involved in the movement should be allowed to go back to forests during the sowing season.

Earlier last year, an Action Taken Report (ATR) was filed by the Chhattisgarh government on the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission in its report.

NHRC had probed the alleged human rights violation by Salwa Judum activists in Chhattisgarh and pointed to incidents of burning and killing on which FIRs were not registered. It had also mentioned cases of high-handedness by the Special Police Officers and civilians armed with weapons to fight Naxals.

The Commission had inquired into alleged human rights violations by activists of Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh even as the Centre had approved the state government's stand.

The NHRC report had said there were some instances of violence which required a probe by an independent agency.

The Centre has maintained that the ground situation in Naxal-hit areas was alarming and political considerations have to be kept at bay to fight Naxalites.

The Centre had earlier also placed before the bench documents in a sealed cover on Naxalite activities to buttress its point that tackling Left-wing extremism with an iron hand was the need of the hour.
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