The Disarming of teh Salwa Judum

In a landmark Judgement, delivered on July 5th, the Supreme Court of India has bracketed the Salwa Judum, the Special Police Officers (SPOs), or the Koya Commandos together, and has termed their existence as unconstitutional and illegal. The Apex Court remarked that these were the outcome of a “flawed policy” that pitted the adivasis against the adivasis, as also using the tribals as a “Cannon Fodder” in its fight against the Maoists/Naxals. The Judgement of the Apex Court was in response to a PIL filed by the noted Professor Nandini Sunder, Historian Ramachandra Guha and a former Civil Servant, EAS Sarna.

For the uninitiated, the Salwa Judum is a private militia created by the Chattisgargh Government to assist the forces in its anti-naxal operations especially in the regions of Dantewada and Bastar. Over a period of time, the Salwa Judum has grown on to fight the naxals, but have been accused of attacking and harassing the tribals, in the name of helping the naxals. The main organizer of this movement was a local Congress politician called Mahendra Karma, but in an unprecedented solidarity between the two biggest warring political parties, the BJP Government led by CM Raman Singh, has been the biggest advocate of the group.

Over a ong period now, the tribals have been on the receiving end, by having to loose their land, their forests and rights, to the Mining Mafia, big International Conglomerates like the Vedanta, Essar and Posco, as also to some of the very large dams, which have been termed as the ‘Temples of Development’. The discontent and the frustration of having to loose their livelihood, and no proper compensation for their loss as also repeated disregard to their voices, have made them to take arms, if not support those groups, like the naxals and the Maoists, who were only happy to find an excuse to fight the State.

The Judgement, indeed, has come as a big blow to the Chhatisgargh Government, as well the Union Home Ministry led by P Chidambaram, who had enhanced the quantum of anti-naxal Grants in 2010.
The Supreme Court, vide its Judgement, further directed the state to immediately desist itself from using SPOs in its anti-naxal operations, disarm the groups, recall all firearms issued to them and also give the tribals protection, because they have made themselves targets of maoist wrath by assisting the security forces in its operations.

The Court has also ordered a re-investigation into all such uncompleted cases of alleged criminal activities of the Salwa Judum and the SPOs.

The underlining issue is that the Judgement questioned the very basis of the model of development, followed by the successive Central and State Governments, post the liberalization pioneered by none other than the current Prime Minister. The Supreme Court, in no uncertain terms has stated that on the one hand, the State subsidises the private sector, giving it tax breaks after tax breaks, while simultaneously citing lack of revenue and funds for not helping the poor and the needy, it arms the youngsters to combat the anger and the frustration borne out of this very same neo-liberal policies.
This Judgement should go a long way, as also make the economist PM as well all the ruling class to know what the need of the hour is, and to make their ponder over what line of action they should be taking to effectively tackle the “biggest threat” that the country now faces.

The full text of the Judgement can be read here :

Pic Courtesy :-


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