Rahul ''respects'' SC views on Salwa Judum

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Kanker, Chhattisgarh, Apr 26 (UNI) Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi today pointed out that the recent Supreme Court decision on 'Salwa Judum' -- the ongoing peoples' movement against naxals in Chhattisgarh's Bastar division -- had to be respected.

''The Supreme Court has given its order. It has to be respected as it is the country's apex court,'' he while replying to a question on his views on Salwa Judum.

When pointed out that people held divergent views over the issue, Mr Gandhi evaded a direct reply by saying, ''there are different views. It is for the state's people to decide. As far as I am concerned, I respect the Supreme Court's views.'' The Salwa Judum issue figured during Mr Gandhi's visit to Bastar yesterday when one group demanded the movement's scrapping while another openly supported it.

The apex court recently expressed disapproval of constitution of Salwa Judum self-defence groups by the Chhattisgarh government and giving them weapons to tackle the rebel menace.

Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, heading a two-judge bench, had also asked, ''how can the state give arms to some persons? The state will be abetting in a crime if these private persons kill others.'' Salwa Judum, which in tribal Gondi dialect means peace movement, started in June 2005 in a remote village in Bastar to create awareness among the masses to keep the Maoists aloof.

However, a section of others termed the movement as state-sponsored and criticised it, alleging that innocent tribals were being used as human shields in the conflict against the ultras.

UNI XC AC 1659

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