Opposition parties in Chhattisgarh Wednesday asked the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to wind up the state backed anti-Maoist civil militia movement, Salwa Judum. The opposition remarks came after the Supreme Court Monday ticked off the Chhattisgarh government for arming tribals to form the Salwa Judum. The apex court said the people couldn’t be armed and encouraged to take law into their own hands.

Welcoming the observation by the court, Congress leader Ajit Jogi said: “Chief Minister Raman Singh should take moral responsibility for killing of hundreds of innocent civilians in recent years in Maoist violence.

“Raman Singh government supplied arms to militia cadres to fight Maoists for the sake of political gains that has actually now threatened the existence of tribal community in Bastar. Hundreds of innocent people (are) massacred and bodies dumped in forests,” Jogi, a tribal leader and former chief minister, told IANS.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state unit asked the government to wind up the Salwa Judum movement in the wake of the apex court’s remarks.

“The government has put tribal civilians against one another in Bastar by promoting Salwa Judum that has resulted in bloodshed. The movement must be wound up to protect human rights and the tribal community,” a CPI-M statement said.

Salwa Judum, which translates as peace mission, is a controversial anti-Maoist movement formed in June 2005 to bring the area dominated by leftist guerrillas back under government control.

Human rights organisations have also blamed the BJP government for funding and arming the Salwa Judum. They allege that the government tactics have created a major law and order problem in the state’s southern Bastar region, as the militia cadres have taken the law into their own hands.

The state government says it is studying the court observations to take further action.

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