Tribal Affairs Minister V. Kishore Chandra Deo on Thursday dubbed anti-Maoist militia Salwa Judum as a “sinful strategy,” bringing to the fore apparent differences in the Congress over the approach to Maoists who last week wiped out party leadership in Chhattisgarh in a deadly attack.

Mr. Deo warned that the nation would witness “worse consequences” if the Naxalite issue was treated as a mere law and order problem, just days after Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh termed the Maoists as “terrorists” after the May 25 bloodbath.

The people “worst affected” by the Salwa Judum, founded by Mahendra Karma, Congress leader who was killed in the attack, were innocent tribals, who were “sandwiched” between security forces and Maoists and “this shadow is still chasing us,” the Minister said.

Mr. Deo, himself a tribal, cautioned against deploying the Army to counter the Naxals.

“Air power and military are meant to fight the enemy and not your own citizens.... How do you differentiate a Maoist? ...It will create a civil war-like situation,” he said insisting that the Naxal issue was basically a socio-economic problem. Asked whether the Salwa Judum was a faulty or a failed strategy, he remarked it was a “sinful” strategy. — PTI