Salwa Judum making a comeback in Bastar: Activists

New Delhi: A group of activists today claimed that the Salwa Judum movement is "making a comeback" in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, and alleged that it was being done to drive away the tribal people from their land.

Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan said, "Operation Green Hunt is making a comeback slowly and is a modified form of a low-intensity war. Salwa Judum is too making a comeback.

Adivasis are officially made as SPOs (Special Police Officers) and killing the adivasis."

"The only intention is to grab their land to make them disappear and do it in a way that the world should not know about it," Bhushan said, addressing a news conference.

Salwa Judum was a militia mobilised and deployed as part of anti-insurgency operations in Chhattisgarh, aimed at countering the Naxal violence in the region. In 2011, the Supreme Court declared it as illegal and ordered its disbanding.

However, Bhushan said efforts are being made to make a similar front like Salwa Judum. The earlier movement was led by the late Mahendra Karma while the new one, called Vikas Sangharsh Samiti, is headed by his son Chhavindra.

He added that there were many cases of fake encounters, but the state lacked any proper redressal means.

"Guidelines laid by SC on encounters are not followed by judiciary there... After spending years and years as under-trails and upon acquittal they are not provided any compensation, their life is not rehabilitated, the police who is responsible for all this is not punished," he said.

Tribal activist Lingaram Kodopi claimed that the return of Salwa Judum is leading to fleeing of villages by the adivasis. "Almost half the villages in Bijapur district are deserted now," Kodopi said.

Tribal activist Soni Sori, who was also at the press conference, alleged that Bastar Range Inspector General SRP Kalluri was threatening her to leave the district. Earlier this month, Sori had also challenged her for allegedly calling her a "Maoist sympathiser".

She further alleged that the police was terrorising her and claimed that the incidents of people surrounding claiming to be Naxals have risen dramatically.

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