Salwa Judum was a militia mobilized by the State government to deal with Naxalites. But this caused great casualties, both life and property of common villagers. It caused huge controversy and finally was banned by the Supreme Court. In 2012, SC ruled that Salwa Judum was against human rights and thus banned it completely.
This was a short precap of this article. This topic is relevant for the UPSC Pre and Mains both and therefore we are going to discuss it in detail.
Salwa Judum Meaning
“Salwa Judum” translates as a Peace march or purification hunt in the Gondi language. But the latter name suits it well. It was truly a pack of hunters hunting down Naxalites, but also causing casualties to common villagers.
What is Salwa Judum?
Salwa Judum was an anti-Naxalite militia. The Chhattisgarh State government mobilized and deployed them to launch operations against Naxalites.
Mahendra Karma initiated this movement, initially it was a failure due to lack of support. But later on, this became popular among the government when he became MLA. Later he was executed by Naxalites in the Darbhanga massacre.
It consisted of local youth who were trained and supported by the Chhattisgarh state government.
Importance in UPSC
Salwa Judum, Case of Nandini Sunder vs the State of Chattisgarh and also the role of NHRC is important from UPSC Pre and Mains aspect.
Origin of Salwa Judum
The first movement was initiated by Mahendra Karma, who was a local leader in 1991 as Jan Jagran Abhiyan. But this movement fell due to a lack of financial and political support.
This movement became official and legal in 2005. The state government-sponsored a vigilante movement in rural areas of some states against the Naxalites threat.
This movement became a massive hit and gained support from ruling and opposition parties.
In 2008, more than 65% of Naxal violence were recorded in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand alone. Therefore, to tackle this Chhattisgarh State government revised the Salwa Judum movement.
They recruited several local villages and tribesmen who were part of Salwa Judum and trained them as special police officers.
Special Police Officers (SPOs)
To deal with the growing influence of Naxalism in Chhattisgarh, the state government decided to revise the Salwa Judum movement. It employed youths from local villages and tribes, this included ex-Naxalite civilians as well as members of Salwa Judum.
The state government of Chhattisgarh trained and supported them. They were trained from .303 rifles.
Reason for the Rise of Salwa Judum
During 2005, Naxalite banned the seasonal ban over the collection of tendu leaves. This was a great dissent over it. They decided to raise their voice against it but were badly beaten.
Many such reasons increased the dissent of tribals and villagers for Naxalite. This discontentment and fear initiated the Salwa Judum movement under the leadership of Mahesh Karma.
Change of the Movement
This movement was initiated as a result of discontent and fear among tribal men and villagers. However, it underwent a massive change under the leadership of rich landowners like Mahendra Karma.
It soon took an ugly shape and the militia became uncontrollable. Soon they were burin villages, raping women, killing others and started looting. Many were forced to flee from their village.
The village was forced to join rescue camps and those who didn’t were threatened. Those in the camp were with the government and others were declared Naxalite.
Village and tribespeople were suffering from both ends. As they were forced by Salwa Judum people to spill information about Naxalite and Naxalites were killing those who were believed to have betrayed them.
The Controversies Associated with Salwa Judum
According to a survey by the Forum for Fact-Finding Documentation and Advocacy, more than 12,000 minors were used as soldiers in Salwa Judum in the southern district of Tampa. The government has also employed 4200 Special police officers, which were reported.
Asian Center for Human Rights and Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers reported the same.
Violating Human Rights
According to the people’s union for civil liberties, Salwa Judum was an anti-human rights organization. There have been many incidents where Salwa Judum has caused casualties, both human lives and property.
There were reports where there have been villagers killed and the others were forced to flee from the villages. Moreover, from 2006 to 2008 the rate of migration to Andhra Pradesh from Chhattisgarh hiked. In 2013 it was declared illegal and unconstitutional.
In 2008, the Supreme Court directed the state government to stop supporting and providing alms to Salwa Judum. According to SC, the state government has no right to provide arms to a civilian and allow him to kill someone else. This was against section 302 of the Indian Penal Code
Ill-Effects of Salwa Judum
Salwa Judum has caused severe damages to the local areas. They have killed thousands of people, burnt villages, caused casualties, and looted properties. They did not even leave children, women, or elders.
Anti-Salwa Judum Movement: Voice Against Salwa Judum and SPOs
Many human rights organizations and activists started raising their voices against this movement. Ramchandra Guha and Nandini Sundar were some prominent ones to mobilize public opinion against it.
Soon Nandini Sundar in the Supreme Court filed a petition against the State government and this movement.
Case of Salwa Judum
As a nation of a sovereign democratic republic, India is guided by the principles of the constitution. The government derives its power from the citizens and therefore they should keep in mind welfare by formulating any law or policy.
But there was a huge gap between the controlled armed forces then the real power exercised by this organization.
The petitioner also claimed that the State government is providing arms to the young men of tribes and men of villages and killing people legally.
However, the state government claims it to be a constant constitutional and controlled organization to fight against Maoist extremists.
Salwa Judum Judgment
The bench of B. Sundershan Reddy and Surinder Singh Nijjar accepted that the state was violating constitutional principles and was providing to youth who were majorly illiterate and uncontrollable.
SC appointed NHRC to make a committee and find proof against SPOs and Salwa Judum. Soon the report was formulated but it simply declared Salwa Judum and SPOs as a government-friendly organization aimed against Naxlaists.
This bench declare that the Salwa Judum movement was unconstitutional and illegal and dictated state government disband SPOs and other such movements as soon as possible,
In addition, it directed the state and central government to provide appropriate security measures to ex SPOs from Maoists and Naxalite.
It also inhibited the prevention or operation of any such group that was unconstitutionally or against our human rights.
At last, it also directed that the state of Chhattisgarh should investigate and charge criminal activities of Salwa Judum and SPOs.
The After-Effect of Salwa Judum: Darbha Ghati Massacre
In May 2013, the members of the Congress party were kidnapped and killed by Naxalites. They were returning after the preparatory campaigns for upcoming elections when they were attacked.
Several members were massacred including Mahendra Karma, founder of Salwa Judum and other prominent members of Congress.
Afterwards, the Naxalites accepted the responsibility of this massacre and claimed that their main target was Mahendra Karma. Moreover, Naxalsits women stabbed him multiple times.
Salwa Judum initiated a movement to fight against Naxalites using public force. Soon took an ugly face because of the uncontrollable power given to them. However, SC banned and disbanded any such militia but still, parts of it can be found in Armed Auxiliary Forces, District Reserve Group and similar organizations.
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