Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cannot stifle Salwa Judum: Chhattisgarh to SC

NEW DELHI: The Chhattisgarh government has told the Supreme Court that the Naxal menace has reached alarming proportions in the state and it cannot stifle Salwa Judum, a people’s initiative to combat ultras’ violent and illegal activities. ( so called)

The state government said that the Centre supports its anti-Naxal measures and the view of Union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh that the Salwa Judum movement should be reviewed in the wake of migration of tribals to Andhra Pradesh, was entirely his personal opinion.

The affidavit of the Chhattisgarh government states, “during 2007, Naxalites committed 635 offences in which 242 civilians and 125 policemen were killed in the state.

“During 2006, Naxalites committed 807 offences in which 39 police personnel and 326 civilians were killed, as against 604 offences in 2005 in which 46 police personnel and 130 civilians were killed. The main targets of Naxal violence were the security forces including special police officers (SPOs) and tribals associated with Salwa Judum.”

The government said that the Naxal outfits were targeting police posts, schools, panchayat bhawans, railway properties, electricity towers, mining and related activities. “They (Naxals) destroyed 55 primary school buildings, 8 panchayat bhawans, 9 ashram bhawans, 9 hostels, 8 anganwadi centres, 18 other buildings in the last three years. There were also cases of destruction of electric towers resulting in blackouts in many parts of the Naxal-affected regions,” the affidavit pointed out.

It said that the people of Chhattisgarh, due to the fear of Naxalites, were segregating in the camps. Even these camps were being attacked by Naxalites, it added.

Citing these data to substantiate its plea that the Naxal menace has reached alarming proportions in the state, the affidavit said, “the state cannot stifle any people’s initiative to resist a patently illegal organisation and its activities.”

The government said it had appointed 3,400 SPOs in accordance with the provisions of the Police Act. “The SPOs have been very useful in tackling grave problems like terrorism, insurgency in certain parts of the country and Naxalism. The role played by SPOs in controlling certain extraordinary situations of threat to national security has been lauded. For example, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has thousands of SPOs,” said the affidavit.

Refuting allegations that the government was arming civilians to counter Naxals, the state government, however, conceded that “it may be a sheer coincidence that certain members of Salwa Judum have also become SPOs.”

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