Monday, September 17, 2007

Fact finding reports on Salwa Judum


…A lesser known truth is that, as a consequence of the Salwa Judum, the lives of thousands of people in the region are being torn apart in the course of what the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Dantewada, himself described as "aghoshit yudh", an "undeclared war". In just the last few months, about 30,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Approximately 15,000 people from 420 villages are living in temporary camps as refugees, as per official estimates. Perhaps an equal number are living with relatives in other villages or in rented accommodation. Some reports suggest that 96 people from about 34 villages have been killed till November 2005.


….The Salwa Judum has been responsible for a huge amount of violence in the district, which includes killing civilians, burning and looting their houses, and raping women. Rather than stopping Maoist violence, it has actually led to an increase in retaliatory killings by Naxalites.

….The creation and support of the Salwa Judum has divided entire villages and families, perhaps irreversibly. They are forced either to choose the Maoists or the Salwa Judum. Official figures state that 644 out of 1153 villages or nearly 56% are involved in the Salwa Judum. A cycle of retribution and revenge has been set in motion, with the Salwa Judum targeting villagers believed to be sympathetic to the Maoists and the Maoists in turn killing those active in the Salwa Judum.


…That the Salwa Judum is not a popular upsurge against the Maoists but an instrument of the establishment is the one fact about which there has never been any doubt. Not only civil rights organisations and the leftist publications but the mainstream Press too has said so, in report after report. And there is also little doubt that it is an abominable instrument of suppressive politics.


…methods like the Salwa Judum and the wanton militarization of society in Dantewara is not the way to solve the problems of underdevelopment and political dissent in the area. Dantewara today is heavily militarized, leading to brutal repression of an impoverished people seeking social justice.

…people we interviewed showed no ownership of the movement. It is telling that the people refer to it as only Judum minus the Salwa. "Yeh judum khatam ho jata to accha hota" and " jabse yeh judum shuru hua hai, azadi khatam ho gayi hai." were common refrains we heard over and over again


…Salwa Judum is far from a "peace campaign" with some of its cadres being given full military trainings as Special Police Officers. It has become a state sponsored violent counter-insurgency programme.

ACHR interviewed nine minor girls at Bangapal relief camp. The girls identified themselves as Rinki Bogani, 14 years of Pundri village, Rina Karma, 15 of Bodli, Jamuna Oyami, 15 of Chidrapal village, Budri Mariam, 14 of Pundri, Nilo Kadti, 14 of Talnar, Nila Punem, 15 of Bodli, Jamuna Bhaliga, 14 of Belnar, Judira Oyami, 16 of Chidrapal, and Gita Kunjam, 15 of Kodoli.

The minor girls, who were recruited as SPOs, told ACHR that the Salwa Judum activists wooed them with the prospects of employment as SPO at a monthly salary of Rs.1,500 and that they would be permanently absorbed in the Police department. So, they joined Salwa Judum.

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