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Civil Rights bodies say 'Salwa Judum' escalated violence

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 13 (UNI) A fact-finding team of five civil rights organisations today described Chhattisgah government's sponsored 'peace mission' known as 'Salwa Judum' as 'anti-Maoists counter-insurgency programme' which resulted in 'escalation of violence and a large scale violation of human rights in tribal areas of the state'.

The report, prepared by the 14-member team during its visit to Bijapur and Bhairamgarh districts of the state between November 28 to December one last year, said under the 'Salwa Judum'(SJ) programme , the villagers were 'forced' to accompany the security forces entering into the villages said to be stronghold of Maoists and later brought to relief camps set up by the administration.

In this way, ordinary villagers are caught between the military and Maoists who "enjoy the mass support' which even the district collector in his 'Work Proposal' acknowledges when he says that the 'real strength' (of Maoists) lies in sangam membership who are from among the the villagers... ".

The team respresenting-- People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), People's Union for Democratic Rights(PUDR), Association for Protection of Democatic Rights(APDR- West Bengal) and Indian Association of People's Lawyers-- released the report here which said the SJ leadership had been created from the tribal elite transporters, contractors and traders and the tribal areas were being opened up for their 'exploitation'.

With this, the tribal society has been divided on vertical line which led to an alarming increase in killings, the report added.

The civil rights organisations, however, condemned the mass killings such as by landmine blasts. Maoists has already apologised in public for such a incident in Chhattisgarh six weeks ago.

The report said while crime committed by the Maoists was immediately take note by the administration, victims were invariably compensated and police case registered but 'excesses' by the security forces went unrecorded and unheeded.

With escalation of violence because of the SJ programme, around 30,000 people had been uprooted in the affected areas.

The PUDR secretary said instead of launching such SJ programmes, the Centre and state government must engage Maoists in sincere dialogue and should review 'development model' adopted in the country that exploit land,forest and water resources and destroy the indigenous communities for the benefit of big capital both Indian and foreigner. And, this process has prepared ground for militancy.


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