Apex court questions Chhattisgarh on Salwa Judum

New Delhi, Aug 11 (Calcutta Tube) The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the Chhattisgarh government to respond to a plea seeking the disbanding of state-sponsored vigilante group Salwa Judum set up to counter Maoist violence.

An apex court bench of Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar asked the state government to respond to the plea of petitioner and Delhi professor Nandini Sunder seeking withdrawal of security forces from schools and ashrams (welfare homes), where they have been lodged.

The court also asked the state government to respond on action taken by it against Salwa Judum activists involved in cognizable offences against the tribals and the package for the rehabilitation of the tribals dislocated on account of violence by the Maoists and Salwa Judum activists.

The state government has also been asked to respond to the suggestion for setting up an independent monitoring group that would also include the representatives of the Chhatisgarh government and the central government to monitor the implementation of the directions of the apex court.

Senior counsel Ashok Desai appearing for the petitioner told the court that Salwa Judum was ‘promoted and supported’ by the state government to do the work of police in the tribal areas of the Chhatisgarh.

Justice Reddy observed that the state providing arms and ammunition to security forces is an entirely different thing. But wondered how could the state arm private groups.

As the senior counsel pressed for time bound directions to vacate the schools and ashrams occupied by security forces, Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha appearing for the central government said: ‘We have no issues with schools and ashrams. We stay wherever the state government lodges us.’

The court took note of the fact that several government agencies and statutory commissions including the Administrative Reforms Commission had cautioned against the arming of Salwa Judum.

The court said that any rehabilitation plan for tribals should take into account the one that was formulated by the expert committee of the Planning Commission.

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