Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Constitution of `Salwa Judum' challenged

Constitution of `Salwa Judum' challenged

Legal Correspondent

Supreme Court issues notice to Chhattisgarh Government

# "Salwa Judum committing atrocities in the guise of countering the naxal movement"
# Chhattisgarh urged to order impartial enquiry into atrocities committed by this group

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Chhattisgarh Government on a Public Interest Litigation petition challenging the constitution of `Salwa Judum' (self-defence groups) to combat the naxalites.

A Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran issued the notice on the petition filed by Nandini Sundar, Ramachandra Guha and E.A.S. Sarma, after hearing senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina, who brought to the notice of the court the killings and atrocities committed by the `Salwa Judum' in the guise of countering the naxal movement.

Initially the Bench asked counsel that when the Central Government in its assessment to control naxalites menace permitted local restraint groups to be armed, "should the court interfere in such a policy. You must understand that naxalites go on killing innocent people in villages. The police are not coming to the rescue of these people. What is wrong in arming the local people to counter the naxal menace." However, the Bench issued notice to the State Government after counsel highlighted the atrocities committed by activists of the `Salwa Judum.'

The petitioners said the `Salwa Judum' was launched to combat naxalites. But in reality these activists conducted frequent raids on villages and suspected naxalite-sympathisers were beaten up and brutally killed; their houses torched and livestock stolen. These armed activists were also known to be involved in illegal checking of all vehicles passing through their area and levying illegal taxes on the occupants. There were also reports of these activists looting the occupants, who refused to pay their illegal levies.

The petitioners sought a direction to the Chhattisgarh Government to refrain from supporting, associating, encouraging or promoting in any manner the activities of the `Salwa Judum' and to order an impartial enquiry to go into the atrocities committed by this group.

The Hindu

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