Salwa Judum - Potential Threat

Salwa Judum soldier
Different institutions have provided different explanation of Salwa Judum, Government define it peace forces of villagers and local resistance groups while other organization like civil society consider it armed vigilante groups, killing those who disagree with them. What is salwa judum then, However as they operate outside law with assurance of state protection, they indulge in illegal activities. Salwa Judum are the armed groups of villagers, who fought against the Maoists and are well supported by the government, they are like non government organization, not accountable for any of their action and are well funded by government.
Insurgency in the Northeastern states first initiated the tactic of strategic hamletting. It involves rehabilitation of the remote villages to the designated camps, cutting the supply lines of the rebels, and launching the fresh strikes in their strongholds. As no villagers are present in the villages, all those which are left behind can be identified as enemy and force used again them can be justified. This strategy is now used in some of the Maoists affected areas, and it is a key tool in the arsenal of the counter insurgency tactics of government. The Salwa Judum is a new form of combined used of special police officers and Strategic hamletting.

The Salwa Judum was launched in June 2005, in the villages of Dantewada district,  Chattisgarh after the Maoists killed 8 villagers in Kotrapal village. Mahendra Krama , a congress MLA, who has lost his life in a Naxalites' attack, was one of its chief organizer, but also got back from Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister, Raman Singh, and section of congress party. They claim that the salwa judum is a type of peace force, arisen out of village meetings on measures to counter Maosists. But the other side of the story is not that good, within a month of its launch, 15,000 tribals were forced to migrate to camps from Dantewada. In Kota Nedra village, in a salwa judum attack in 2006, small children were killed while bathing in the village pond and three month old child burnt alive.

Investigation on salwa judum by civil society shows that salwa judum activists in combination with the security forces, used to go to villages, threatened them to join salwa judum and if they deny, they used to get punishment. Police messages intercepted by Maoists, confirmed by human rights activists and journalists, affirm that the police have ordered encounter killing of not only Maoists but ' if any journalist comes to report on Naxalites - kill them'. Thus resistance faced by salwa judum was suppressed.

Officials calls salwa judum a 'peaceful Gandhian movement', neglecting the fact that salwa judum activists, equipped with arms use force at first instance. The reality is far more different then what is provided by government, Salwa Judum is an armed vigilante group, killing and threatening all those who don't agree with them. They have large funds to manage camps and zero accountability. In salwa judum areas teenagers with bows and arrows guard roadblocks. Families are supposed to build their own make shift houses. They get very low wages of 50 rupees a day for digging roads in forests.

The salwa judum is accompanied by the dreaded CSPSA and some of the provisions of this are harsher than the AFSPA, as it directly target the media and activists who report on Maoists activity. Government is going with the policy- those not with the state are against it and that is complete violation of democratic principles, any dissent activity is termed as Naxalite. Meanwhile, government is applying the salwa judum in other state too, all local sources testify its unpopularity and criminality.

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