by Pallavi Polanki May 27, 2013
“On no count has the government done anything to implement the Supreme Court judgment. In fact, they have done everything to subvert it and make the situation worse,” says author and sociologist Nandini Sundar, on whose petition the apex court in 2011 banned the Salwa Judum, a state-sponsored militia propped up to counter Maoists in Chhattisgarh.
In its hard-hitting judgement, the Supreme Court had ordered the prosecution of all those involved in criminal activities of Salwa Judum, the architect of which was controversial Congress leader Mahendra Karma. On Saturday, Karma, the tribal leader from Bastar was among the 27 people gunned down in a deadly Maoist attack on a convoy of Congress leaders while they were returning from a political rally.
The Supreme Court had directed the state government to investigate all previously “inappropriately or incompletely investigated instances of alleged criminal activities of Salwa Judum”, file appropriate FIRs and diligently prosecute the guilty.
But no one has been prosecuted, says Sundar. “Somebody like Mahendra Karma should have been in jail a long time ago,” she adds.
Has the Supreme Court verdict impacted the government’s response at all? “No. For one thing, we had explicitly named Mahendra Karma and shown from police diaries and the Collector’s monthly reports of his involvement. Right from the beginning we had shown the involvement of the Chhattisgarh government in what was going on. It wasn’t a people’s movement at all.”
Describing the response by the state government to the Supreme Court’s order to disband the 6500 “barely literate” and inadequately trained tribal special police officers to fight the Maoists, as a “slap in the face of the court”, Sundar says “The SPOs were supposed to be disbanded. Instead, they were constituted into an armed constabulary force from the date of the judgment. The Chhattisgarh Act says very clearly that everyone who was an SPO on the date of the judgement would now be considered an armed constabulary force and they were given better guns and more money.”
Asked whether the scale and nature of response by the government to the deadly attack was a cause of worry and what she would like the government response to be, she said, “I am very saddened by the attack and I think it is terrible… Firstly, I would like to see the government implement the Supreme Court judgment. Secondly, I would like to see them resign for their complete failure to address the whole issue.
“The judgment laid down very clearly the fact that people who violated human rights should be prosecuted. I would like to see the SPOs disbanded. I would like to see the compensation and rehabilitation of all those who were affected by the Salwa Judum. I would like to see the schools being vacated and restarted in every village. They continue to be occupied by the security officers (despite the Supreme Court’s order). We would like to see some element of justice and normalcy as the main plank rather than just military operation.”
- Remembering Mahendra Karma- Two Roads Parted In The Woods (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Press Release : NAPM on Maoist Ambush in Chattisgarh (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #India – Why Salwa Judum was held Unconstitutional by Supreme Court (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- CPI(ML): do not unleash greater repression on Bastar people (thehindu.com)
- The rise and fall of Mahendra Karma – the Bastar Tiger (thehindu.com)
- #India – The Bastar Land Grab #tribalrights #indigenousrights (kractivist.wordpress.com)