Chhattisgarh begins disarming Salwa Judum

July 6th, 2011 - 3:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Raipur, July 6 (IANS) Chhattisgarh Wednesday began disarming around 4,500 tribal youths, a day after the Supreme Court ordered the state to disband and disarm Salwa Judum, the anti-Maoist civil militia, police sources said.

“We have begun disarming them, they will be kept under security at Salwa Judum relief camps because unarmed SPOs (Special Police Officers) may be just like chicken for hungry tigers (Maoists),” a source at the police headquarters here told IANS.

He said unarmed SPOs carry a risk to their life from Maoists as they were instrumental in leading police to the rebel hideouts. He said they also led to dismantling of terror networks of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in jungles of the sprawling 40,000 sq km Bastar region.

Police officers posted in the rebel-strongholds said the court order will hit the anti-Maoist drive as SPOs were “part and parcel” of the combing squads.

“The SPOs are feeling demoralised after the court order but what can the state do, we have to abide by the order. We are trying our best to disarm all the SPOs as early as possible,” a police officer said.

However, the Chhattisgarh government still maintains that it will consult legal experts on the court order before taking a decision about the SPOs, who are mainly posted in the Bastar region that has witnessed a series of deadly Maoist attacks since 2005.

Meanwhile, the opposition Congress Wednesday slammed the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and sought resignation of Chief Minister Raman Singh on moral grounds.

“I was one of the people in the state who strongly opposed Salwa Judum and arming of tribal youths as SPOs which has led to the killings of hundreds and thousands of innocent people and policemen in Maoist violence,” Ajit Jogi, Congress leader and former chief minister, said in a statement.

“Now that the court has struck down the state government’s SPOs recruitment and declared Salwa Judum unconstitutional, the chief minister should own moral responsibility and resign from his post.”

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