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Centre agrees to high-level monitoring panel in Chhattisgarh case

With the petitioners in the ongoing PIL case on Salwa Judum asking for the formation of a high-level committee to oversee the rehabilitation of displaced persons in Chhattisgarh and deal with criminal matters arising from the activities of the state-sponsored anti-naxal movement, the Centre, through the Solicitor-General, on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it agreed to the setting up of a panel but needed time to work out the details.

In their plea before a Bench of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar, the petitioners, Prof. Nandini Sundar and others, said the court should direct the Centre and Chhattisgarh to withdraw all support, either direct or indirect, (financial or moral or logistical) to any armed vigilante group, including Salwa Judum by any of its names and cease arming civilians.

Senior counsel Ashok Desai, appearing for the petitioners, said schools and hostels which are still being occupied by the security forces must be vacated and a high-level committee to monitor rehabilitation and criminal justice constituted.

When Chhattisgarh counsel submitted that schools be run at alternative sites without disturbing the paramilitary personnel stationed there, Justice Reddy said, “We are not going to buy this argument. You have to vacate the schools.”

It was simply not acceptable for the security forces to occupy schools and displace children, he said.

The court also ordered police protection to one of the petitioners, Manish Kunjam, a former CPI MLA.

In proposals submitted to the court, the petitioners said the State government should be asked to vacate all schools, hostels and public buildings by December 31, and to ensure that they were not occupied by armed or security forces in future for whatever purpose and that the schools were restored to the appropriate educational authority.

On relief and rehabilitation, they said a high-level committee should be constituted to oversee the comprehensive rehabilitation in Dantewada and Bijapur districts, including registration of FIRs.

For this purpose, a Rehabilitation Plan might be designed keeping in mind the model suggested by the petitioners in March 2010. They wanted compensation of Rs. 4 lakh paid in cases of death, rape or incapacitation.

The process of restoring essential services like the PDS, schools, anganwadi and health workers to villagers should be started immediately.

The Bench posted the matter to December 15, asking the Centre and the State to file their response to the proposal.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 4:13:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Centre-agrees-to-high-level-monitoring-panel-in-Chhattisgarh-case/article15691429.ece

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