Apex court raps Chhattisgarh on Salwa Judum commitments


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Friday chided the Chhattisgarh government for saying one thing to the court on the Salwa Judum, the anti-Maoist civil militia in the state, and doing the exact opposite of it.

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“We were told that Salwa Judum was on the way out and SPOs (special police officers) are not getting any government backing but what we hear is a different story,” observed the apex court bench of Justice B. Sudarshan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar.

The court also took a serious view of the failure of the Chhatisgarh government and the central government to file a comprehensive affidavit they were asked to file during the case’s last hearing Aug 30.

In the last hearing, the court asked the state government to address the question of the present status of Salwa Judum and why it should not be disbanded. It also sought to know the status of relief and rehabilitation, the removal of security forces from schools and ashrams and progress on registration, investigation and trial of criminal offences.

The court had also sought the opinion of the state government on setting up an independent monitoring committee to oversee the progress on these issues.

The apex court jibe at the Chhatisgarh government came after it was told that the petitioner Nandini Sundar, on her visit to the state, was surrounded by local police and 10 SPOs thereby making it appear as if people were being kept off her.

“The sight of such a large armed police escort has naturally made local people, many of whom she has known for twenty years, suspicious and scared of talking to her,” Sundar said in her affidavit.

The court was also told that the other petitioner in the case, Kartam Joga has been arrested on a number of “false” cases.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium had assured Nandini Sundar in the course of last hearing of the matter that she was free to visit the tribal areas of the state and even interact with the district administration on the steps being taken for their livelihood, health education and rehabilitation.

Sundar’s affidavit said she sent an email and a letter by speed post to the Chhattisgarh chief secretary Sep 6 expressing her desire to visit the state, and even adding a questionnaire on which she would like to have information during her visit.

She told the court that the chief secretary took one month to respond to her email and letter.

Even in that response, the chief secretary said that information sought by her was not available with the district administration, while Sundar contended that it was information that should normally be available with the state government.

The court adjourned the matter and it will come up for hearing next Thursday.