Chhattisgarh to decide on Salwa Judum fate: Patil

May 11th, 2008 - 11:28 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Shivraj Patil

Raipur, May 11 (IANS) It was up to the Chhattisgarh government to decide on the fate of the Salwa Judum, Home Minister Shivraj Patil said Sunday after visiting the Maoist heartland of Dantewada and Bijapur districts. “The Salwa Judum is a matter concerned with Chhattisgarh and the state government will decide whether to continue or disband it,” he told reporters at Jagdalpur, the headquarters of Bastar district, at the end of his daylong visit to the state to assess the rising Maoist violence.

The Salwa Judum is a controversial civil militia movement launched in June 2005 by tribespeople of the state’s southern Bastar region that has direct arms and fund backing of the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

Patil’s statement assumes significance in the backdrop of a recent report of the Planning Commission that the Salwa Judum should be disbanded.

Human rights organizations and communist parties have also sought a ban on the movement, accusing the state government of arming civilians in thousands against all norms and principles of democracy in the name of tackling Maoists.

Describing Maoist insurgency as a national problem, Patil said: “Andhra Pradesh’s model of setting up an elite anti-Naxal force, Grey Hounds, should be adopted by other states hit by leftwing violence.”

He said the central government would continue to provide all support to the affected states in fighting insurgency.

“I am not dissatisfied with the step taken by the state government to handle the Maoists,” he said in reply to a query from reporters.

Addressing the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel at the force’s interior base at Aranpur in Dantewada - along with Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister Raman Singh - Patil described Maoists as “misguided people who want to talk to us through the language of gun”.

Officials said Patil’s trip to the Maoist heartland was mainly to encourage 17 CRPF battalions in Chhattisgarh, the second largest after the one deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.

Chhattisgarh has accounted of 435 deaths, including about 200 casualties of policemen, in 2007 in Maoist violence.

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