Despite Supreme Court order, Salwa Judum is still active

A 13-member fact-finding team that visited Chintalnar, Morapally, Timmapuram and Tadmetla villages of Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh has found that the police claim that they had an encounter with Maoists in the jungles of Dantewada during March second week as “a hoax and far from reality.”

“We have been inside these areas for two days, only to see that there was no ‘encounter' with Maoists as claimed by the police, which is nothing but a myth propagated by the State to justify these atrocities,” the team said in a report released to the media.

The team said State-sponsored Koya commandos, consisting of former Maoists and tribals, and the “CoBRA” unit of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) went on the rampage from March 11 to 16 in these villages, killing three tribals, raping three women and setting on fire/destroying over 300 houses/huts, granaries and other properties.

“These rampages were done with full consent and active support of the State.” This clearly showed that the Salwa Judum was active and functioning like always. The State's branding them as “Koya Commandos” was “bogus.” Despite the Supreme Court's directive to disband Salwa Judum it was fully functional and actively promoted and sponsored by the State government.

The team said the attack by the police forces and the Salwa Judum was heinous and the attack on innocent tribals was done persistently by the State and its mercenaries in the name of “Operation Green Hunt.”

These villages were particularly targeted as they had done alternative development works such as digging ponds, distributing land among the landless, making irrigation facilities which the State had failed to provide.

The Hindu has extensively reported about the atrocities perpetrated on tribals.

The team members, led by C.H. Chandrasekhar, and consisting of social, human rights and civil activists, lawyers, journalists and educationists, among other things, urged the State government to register cases of rape, murder, atrocities and kidnap against the CRPF and Salwa Judum members and provide exemplary punishment for the perpetrators of these acts. The injured should be given immediate medical assistance and medical tests of the rape victims should be conducted.

People who suffered losses should be compensated. The government should immediately disband the Salwa Judum/Koya commandos.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), taking suo motu cognisance of media reports on the attack on social activist Swami Agnivesh and his team members on March 26 when they tried to take relief materials to the affected villages, issued notices to Chhattisgarh Chief Secretary and the Director-General of Police, seeking factual reports on the incident within four weeks.

The reports said a large group, comprising special police officers of the Chhattisgarh police and members of the Salwa Judum attacked and manhandled him twice despite his trying to go to the villages with police escort. The Commission said “the entire incident is a matter of great concern.”

Swami Agnivesh had gone there to deliver clothes, blankets and other relief materials to the affected people.

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