SC`s searching poser to Chhattisgarh govt on Salwa Judum

SC today asked the Chhattisgarh government some searching questions on disbanding the Salwa Judum.

Last Updated: Aug 11, 2010, 20:24 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the
Chhattisgarh government some searching questions on disbanding
the Salwa Judum, the anti-Naxal vigilante group accused of
human rights violation in Maoist-hit tribal districts of the
state.

"Why shall the state government not disband the Salwa
Judum?" was among the five questions posed by a Bench
comprising Justices B Sudarshan Reddy and S S Nijjar to the
Chhatisgarh government.

The state government had during the previous hearings
maintained that Salwa Judum was dying out.

The Bench said it also wanted to know from the state
government whether schools and ashrams in Maoist-affected
areas were still used for stationing central para-military
forces as alleged by rights activists.

The CRPF officials present in the courtroom passed a
message to Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha who said
the central forces did not occupy any building or place on its
own.

"I have an instruction from the CRPF officials present in
the courtroom here to say that it is the state government
which provides accommodation to the forces," he said.

The Chhattisgarh government will also have to respond
about the steps taken by it on the FIRs registered on the
basis of the report of NHRC pointing out human rights
violation by the members of Salwa Judum.

Further, on the allegation that rehabilitation of the
victims in tribal areas were not done properly, the Bench said
the state government will spell out the measures taken and
also elaborate whether or not it has considered suggestions of
the Planning Commission and rights activists who have
approached the apex court.

The need for setting up a committee of eminent persons to
monitor the action of the authorities in Naxal-hit areas is
also a bone of contention between the state government and the
activists.

Both Chhattisgarh government and activists have objected
to each others` list of names to be included in the committee.

The Bench wanted to know from the state whether a way
could be worked out by including the names proposed from both
sides.

"We would like to have your (state) response on these
five things tomorrow," the Bench said adding the committee
would monitor rehabilitation of the victims who are caught in
the cross-fire in the fight between Salwa Judum activists and
Naxalites on one hand and between Maoists and police on the
other hand.

Advocates Manish Singhvi and Atul Jha, appearing for
Chhattisgarh government, said they will respond to the queries
of the Bench and added that "in principle, no troops should be
there in school buildings".

Before passing the order, the Bench noted the submission
of senior advocate Ashok Desai, who read out the contents of
some official reports including the one from the Second
Administrative Reforms Commission suggesting disbanding of
Salwa Judum.

The state government said central forces are being
massacred in Naxal-hit areas and strong measures were
required to counter that.

The judges shared the concern of the state government and
said "it can provide all wherewhithal to the security
which is in their domain but arming the private group is a
serious thing".

The suggestion by the bench on the possibility of
appointing a committee to oversee the action of the
authorities in Naxal-hit areas was contrary to the view of
another bench of the apex court which had on May 6 rejected
the idea.

"We are very clear that we will not appoint a committee
to monitor the prosecution of cases registered at NHRC`s
recommendation," a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G
Balakrishnan (since retired) and Justices Deepak Verma and B S
Chauhan had said.

However, the Bench had said it could consider the plea
for appointing the committee for monitoring the relief and
rehablitation of the victims who are caught in the cross-fire
in the fight between Salwa Judum activists and Naxalites on
one hand and between Maoists and police on the other hand.

The court was hearing a PIL on which an NHRC probe was
ordered into the allegations by some academicians and social
activists that the state government was supporting the Salwa
Judum to combat Naxalism.

They had submitted the setting up of a monitoring
committee would help in not only streamlining the relief and
rehabilitation but would also be beneficial for proper
prosecution of the cases registered on NHRC recommendations.

However, their submissions were opposed by advocates of
Chhattisgarh government.

The state government had said it was committed to
complying with NHRC recommendations and orders of the
apex court which has been monitoring the development on the
issue.

The counsel had said the situation in Maoist-affected
areas of Chhattisgarh state was precarious and referred to the
April 6 incident in which 76 paramilitary personnel were
killed by the outlaws in Dantewada district.

PTI