The Chhattisgarh government has asserted in the Supreme Court that the Salwa Judum movement does not exist in the State, and therefore the question of disbanding it does not arise.
In its affidavit filed on Wednesday, the State said the petition filed by social activist Nandini Sundar and others had become infructuous as they themselves would unmistakably indicate that the Salwa Judum movement “does not exist.” Professor Sundar had herself said in her affidavit that Salwa Judum was being revived under a new name Dandakaranya Shanti Sangharsh Samiti, the State pointed out.
On August 31, a Bench of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar observed that the government's response was “wholly vague and indefinite,” and directed it to file a proper comprehensive affidavit within six weeks on the present status of Salwa Judum and why it should not be disbanded; the status of relief and rehabilitation of those hit by violence; the removal of security forces from schools and ashrams; progress on registration, investigation and trial of criminal offences and whether an independent committee could be set up to oversee these issues. The Centre was also asked to file its response on these points.
On October 22, the court gave both governments a last chance till October 28 for filing their response.
The State said: “Due to administrative exigencies and lack of adequate administrative infrastructure it was housing security forces in 31 schools, ashrams and hostels.” But alternative arrangements had been made to ensure that children's education was not affected.
The State blamed the lack of infrastructure on the Maoist strategy of destroying it. Naxalites had destroyed 110 school buildings, 74 panchayat buildings and three hospitals in tribal areas.
On cases of violence by Salwa Judum activists, the government said they were at various stages of investigation, which was hampered by difficult terrain, inaccessibility of villages, inclement weather and hostilities by Naxalities.
Refuting Professor Sundar's charge that her interaction with local people was hampered as she was surrounded by the security forces during her visit to tribal areas, the government said a security cover was provided to address her apprehension of a law and order situation.
The State also denied the charge that another petitioner, Kartam Joga, was beaten up badly by Salwa Judum members and police. Since the Centre is yet to file its response, the Bench posted the matter to November 18.