- PUDR, New Delhi, 17 May 2005: When the state makes war on its own people: Violation of peoples rights during the 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.
- Independent Citizens Initiative, 20 July 2006, War in the heart of India (pdf)
….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.
- Human Rights Forum, December 2006, Hyderabad, Death, Displacement and Deprivation; The war in Dantewada: A Report
…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.
CAVOW, December 2006, Salwa Judum and the Violence on Women in Dantewara,Chhattisgarh
…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
- ACHR, 17 March 2006, New Delhi, The Adivasis of Chhattisgarh: Victims of the Naxalite Movement and Salwa Judum Campaign
…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.
…the Public health system, which was already stretched, was now in a serious crisis after the Salwa Judum campaign…It needs to be also mentioned that there seems to be an increase in unnatural deaths…It was obvious that the personnel of the public health system were working under very trying situations. Nothing can be more telling in this context than the statement was about being a “murdon ka daktar”, and that he was forced to perform postmortems under trees…
…It appears to be a society forced to take sides, whether they liked it or not. This seemed to be reflected in the language – `is paar’, `us paar’, `andarwale’, etc. The seemingly prevalent rules – set by the Salwa Judum – were: if you were not against the ‘Naxals’ you were by default defined as ‘Naxal supporters’.
It became quite clear to us that rather than giving a sense of security to the people, the Salwa Judum campaign and the displacement into camps had led to a continued sense of insecurity. This general sense of insecurity was heightened by the destruction of livelihood as well as lack of food security in the camps. While all the camp residents we met indicated that they had initially received free rations, they had to fend for themselves since the last year or so.
“…During the team’s visit to the Dantewada Region, the members’ were struck by the enormous tragedies of one and all especially the tribals, their family members, women and children. This is indeed unfortunate. We strongly feel that the State has an obligation to extricate them from the unusual circumstances they have been caught in and ensure their security and fundamental human rights as paramount concerns…”
- IAPL, October 2007. A report of Preliminary observations and findings of the IAPL team on the human rights situation in Chhattisgarh, India
The Salwa Judum campaign intends to concentrate tribal people in Dantewada in so called “relief camps” with the acquiescence and even blessings of the Chhattisgarh state. Only a few villagers reportedly moved voluntarily to the camps. Those that refused to leave their villages have apparently been forced by Special Police Officers (SPO), militias from the Salwa Judum campaign that did not hesitate to use coercion, threats, intimidation, deception and violence for this purpose. Serious atrocities have been reportedly committed by these forces.
… Life conditions in the “relief camps” are close to inhuman… The majority of those we were able to speak expressed to us their earnest wish to go back to their villages, residences, farms and livelihood. Camp inhabitants who attempt to leave the hamlets are intercepted, returned to the camp and even punished. Camp life is a virtual detention…
… Although they are now temporarily being fed by the camp authorities, they have no certainty about how long ration cards will be provided. Their houses and farms are abandoned. They don’t know when to return to their villages and what they will find upon their return.
Human Rights Watch, July 2008, “Being Neutral is Our Biggest Crime”: Government, Vigilante, and Naxalite Abuses in India’s Chhattisgarh State.
The Indian central and Chhattisgarh state governments claim that Salwa Judum is a “voluntary and peaceful initiative by local people against Naxalites.” Human Rights Watch, however, found overwhelming evidence of direct state involvement in Salwa Judum and the group’s involvement in numerous violent abuses.
Over a period of approximately two-and-a-half years, between June 2005 and the monsoon season of 2007 (June to September), government security forces joined Salwa Judum members on village raids, which were designed to identify suspected Naxalite sympathizers and evacuate residents from villages believed to be providing support to Naxalites. They raided hundreds of villages in Bijapur and Dantewada districts, engaging in threats, beatings, arbitrary arrests and detention, killings, pillage, and burning of villages to force residents into supporting Salwa Judum. They forcibly relocated thousands of villagers to government-run makeshift Salwa Judum camps near police stations or paramilitary police camps along the highways. They also coerced camp residents, including children, to join in Salwa Judum’s activities, beating and imposing penalties on those who refused.
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