Though it has been more than two years since the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court declaring Salwa Judum as illegal and ordering its disbanding, the central and the Chhattisgarh governments have failed to act, Human Rights Forum general secretary VS Krishna has said.
Speaking on ‘Continuing Tragedy of Adivasi Killings’ at the fourth district convention of the forum here on Friday, he said the violence against Adivasis in the Dandakaranya was continuing unabated.
“The Supreme Court, in its judgment on April 5, 2011, asked the central government to disband Salwa Judum, which is illegal in the first place, vacate the CRPF camps from schools and primary health centres (PHCs), initiate measures to rehabilitate the victims of Salwa Judum violence and file FIRs on complaints lodged by tribal people against atrocities committed on them. The court asked the government to submit an Action-Taken Report in six weeks’ time but the central and Chhattisgarh governments chose to ignore the directives.
‘’When we visited some villages situated in the Gangulur police station limits in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh recently, there were eight CRPF camps, three of them in school buildings. And there was no rehabilitation of the victims as suggested by the apex court,’’ Krishna said.
“The Supreme Court had asked the CBI to investigate the burning of 300 houses, murders and rapes in three villages - Tadimetla, Morpalli and Timmapuram in South Bastar district - which happened in March 2011. When some CBI officers visited the villages for investigation, they were terrorised. Now, they are holding sittings at Jagdalpur, a long way from the three villages. People have no financial or other means to go to Jagdalpur to depose before the CBI,’’ he said.
Giving a grim picture of why justice was not prevailing in the tribal belt of Chhattisgarh, which is caught between the Maoist movement and state-sponsored violence, the HRF general secretary said that magisterial inquiry was ordered in only eight of the 550 cases, and seven of them were still pending. “The Salwa Judum had burnt 644 villages, killed about 1,200 people and committed innumerable rapes,’’ he alleged.
‘’Now, the former SPOs of Salwa Judum are rehabilitated in special armed auxiliary force and provided with automatic weapons with four-fold hike in the salary they used to get previously,’’ he said.
Citing the killings of innocent Adivasis at Sarkeguda in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh on June 28, 2012 and at Edesmeta in the same district on May 17, 2013 during Beej Pondum (seed festival), in which half of the victims were minors, Krishna said the state violence against tribals was continuing unabated.
‘’Violence forced many tribal people to cross over to Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh where they are facing untold harassment from police and forest personnel and others as well. Their temporary huts were being burnt down repeatedly and bind-over cases foisted on them. Police were forcing the Adivasis to work without wages whenever they report to the police station as directed by the police,’’ he said.
The HRF would bring out a report on the violence against Adivasis, which would be discussed at its state convention to be held at Visakhapatnam in October.