SC to examine if citizens can be given arms to tackle Naxalism

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New Delhi, Apr 14 (UNI) The Supreme Court will tomorrow examine whether a state can provide private citizens with arms to deal with a menace like Naxalism.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran would hear the arguments of petitioner Ram Chander Guha, who had sought directions from the apex court to ban the ''Salwa Judam'' movement in Chhattisgarh, under which the state government was providing arms to private citizens to encounter the Naxalites.

The state of Chhattisgarh, during the last hearing of the petition, had justified its act of appointing ''Mohalla Suraksha Committees'', comprising of private citizens, who were supplied with arms to deal with the Naxalites.

The apex court had, however, strongly disapproved the act of the state government and told the Chhattisgarh government that to maintain law and order was the responsibility of the state and it could not abdicate its responsibility of providing protection and safety to its citizens.

The petitioner had contended that the ''Salwa Judum'' movement is nothing but a state-sponsored terrorism and innocent people in the state were being killed and tortured on a large scale under the garb of tackling the menace of Naxalism.

The people connected with the ''Salwa Judum'' movement, according to the petitioner, were indulging in extortion, kidnapping, killings and torture of the people with the active connivance and support of the state government and through this movement, the state government was indulging in gross violation of human rights as well as violation of the Fundamental Right to Life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The apex court had already made it clear that such a movement would create chaos in the state and it could not be justified under any circumstance. The state could use more forces, might take the help of the Army to deal with any law and order problem, but could not supply arms and ammunition to private persons.

UNI SC SBC HT1807

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