The Supreme Court under Chief Justice Balakrishnan and Justice Sadashivam, today heard the petitioners’ (Nandini Sundar and ors, Kartam Joga and ors) response to the NHRC report on Salwa Judum. The counsel for the petitioners, Mr. Ashok Desai, pointed out that the report contained a number of findings which supported the petitioners’ grievances, such as the burning of villages by Salwa Judum, complicity of State Police and administration in arson and looting of property; Government and political sponsorship of Salwa Judum rallies;forcing of villagers into camps; inhibition of freedom of movement, extra judicial killings by SPOs; suspect encounters and non-recording of deaths, recruitment of minors as SPOs, and arming of civilians as a vigilante force. The NHRC report notes with respect to sangham members who are unarmed villagers,
“these villagers were specifically targeted when Salwa Judum was on the rise. The enquiry team has come across instances where some of these villagers were even killed (no criminal cases were, however, either reported or registered). Though the State has taken action against SPOs in some cases for violations like murder and attempt to murder, but these cases do not pertain to the violence let loose on innocent villagers during operations against Naxalites.”
The Chhattisgarh Government, which has continued to publicly justify Salwa Judum, admitted in its affidavit and annexures to the Supreme Court that villages had been burnt by Salwa Judum and security forces, and there had been serious offences committed by Salwa Judum, SPOs and security forces in which no action had been taken and no FIRs had been registered.
On 17th October, in response to the Supreme Court’s order that the CG government take some immediate steps on the NHRC report, the Home Secretary of Chhattisgarh issued orders to the Collectors of Bijapur and Dantewada that “necessary action be taken for rehabilitation of uninhabited villages; necessary relief money be given in the cases of properties damaged by Salwa Judum activists/security forces, besides naxalite violence, after village wise analysis, security forces be not allowed to stay in school/ashram buildings; facilities of ration distribution, PDS, health, toilet etc. in the relief camps be ensured.” In addition, the DGP has issued orders to all SPs to register FIRs on receipt of information, and to prepare a village wise list of missing persons.
When counsel for the petitioners pointed out that despite admission of violations, till date no compensation had been publicly announced, leave alone carried out, CG counsel made the excuse that they could not do anything because of the election code of conduct (though this did not stop them from distributing free rice and blankets).
Chhattisgarh government has been asked to file an Action Taken Report to the Supreme Court on the implementation of compensation and rehabilitation measures on a village wise plan and register FIRs against all cognizable offences, by January 28. This will involve bringing back refugees from Andhra Pradesh and compensating them.
The Supreme Court has given time for a detailed hearing in the first week of February, to go into all matters of killing, rape etc. The Judges recognized that the cases mentioned in the NHRC report are only a fraction of the total charges, and will go into the prosecution and other issues in greater depth at that time.
Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh
Email: cpjcindia@gmail. com;
Contact for further information: Nandini Sundar 9868076576, MJ Vijayan
Manish Kunjam 09425260360 (Dantewada),
Himanshu Kumar 09425260031 (Dantewada)