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People’s Convention on Salwa Judum:Civil War in Chhattisgarh

Posted by Indian Vanguard on August 25, 2007

Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh

Invites you to a

People’s Convention

On

Salwa Judum: Civil war in Chhattisgarh

4th September 2007, 2 p.m. onwards

At

Hindi Bhawan, Vishnu Digambar Marg New Delhi

(Near Gandhi Peace Foundation, ITO)

Please find the background note attached below. We will be sending you the programme schedule shortly.

We look forward to your participation.

In Solidarity,

Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh

Background:

In the summer of 2005, news reports started appearing of a ‘spontaneous’, ‘self-initiated’,’ peaceful’, ‘people’s movement’ in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh against the Naxalites, known as the Salwa Judum. The district administration claims that upset with the Maoist strike call on collecting tendu leaves and opposition to development works like road construction and grain levies, people in some 200 villages began mobilizing against the Maoists, going on processions and holding meetings.

However, this picture of the Salwa Judum is far from accurate. The fact is that the Salwa Judum is being led by sections of local elites, contractors and traders, that it is officially part of the official anti-naxal initiatives, being actively supported by the Chhattisgarh Government. Far from being a peaceful campaign, Salwa Judum activists are armed with guns, lathis, axes, bows and arrows. Up to January 2007, 4048 “Special Police Officers” (SPOs) had been appointed by the Government under the Chhattisgarh Police Regulations. They actively participate in the Salwa Judum and are given military and weapons training by the security forces as part of an official plan to create a civil vigilante structure parallel to that of the Naxalites.

Over the last two years, more than 1, 00,000 people have been displaced, their lives completely disrupted, because of Salwa Judum. People are forcibly picked up from their villages and are confined into ‘relief camps’, where they face acute shortage of food, water and other basic amenities and people are forced to live in extremely unsanitary conditions. The condition of several thousands who have been forced to migrate to neighbouring states and districts is even worse.

There has been a complete breakdown of civil administration and the rule of law in Dantewada district and Salwa Judum ‘activists’ have become vigilantes who assert the right to control, intimidate and punish anyone they consider to be a suspected Naxalite. Cases of murder, loot, arson, rape and other violence and atrocities by Salwa Judum go unreported. The Government does not accept responsibility for the actions of the Salwa Judum ‘activists’, it sponsors, encourages, promotes and assures them full state protection and grants them impunity to operate as an extra-legal authority within the district.

The Government’s only response to Maoist insurgency has been to militatrise; step up police operations and to pit civilians, in the name of Salwa Judum, against Maoists and against each other. By resorting to such measures, the government has seriously challenged the efficacy of democratic and constitutional means of finding solutions to people’s problems. It has completely failed to address the root of the discontent, the deprivation and alienation of Adivasis, which form basis of the Maoist foothold in Dantewara. Even according to states government’s own figures, Salwa Judum has only intensified the conflict.

About CPJC:

The Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh is a campaign group formed by individuals and organisations who are deeply concerned about the flagrant violation of human rights going on in Chhattisgarh in the name of fighting “internal terrorism”. We are extremely concerned by the violence unleashed by the state backed Salwa Judum which has pushed Chhattisgarh into a civil war situation and the repressive Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 which is being used to crush all voices of dissent in the state.

Contact us:

Email: cpjcindia@gmail.com; Website: www.cpjc.wordpress.com

Pravin Mote: 011-26964946; Goldy George: 011-26195534; Sridevi Panikkar: 011-26680883;

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