NEW DELHI: The controversial anti-Naxal vigilante army in Chhattisgarh, the Salwa Judum, got a major boost from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which in a report to the supreme court last week justified it as a “spontaneous reaction by the tribals to defend themselves against the “reign of terror unleashed by the Naxalites”.
The apex court had directed the NHRC to investigate the allegations made in a writ petition by Nandini Sundar alleging large-scale human rights violations by the Salwa Judum and security forces.
The three-member team found tribals were denied of basic healthcare facilities, right to education, marriage, to follow their religious beliefs and forced into human trafficking at gunpoint by the Naxalites.
The team also found that Naxalites were using “tyrannical ways” and had hacked if they tried to resist or question the dictates of the Naxalites.
“The Naxalites interfere in the day-to-day life of the tribals — in family matters, marriages and religious beliefs. They force the tribals to send one boy or girl from each family to become a member. There are instances of exploitation of girls by the naxalites,” says the report.
After detailed discussions with the local tribals of Bastar region, the members also found out that “whenever any villager tried to question their conduct or raise his voice, he was silenced forever. In some of the massacres, many innocent people were killed by the Naxalites in the most despicable manner, including repeated stabbing and slitting of the victims’ throats in front of other hostages or villagers”.
The commission also said the right to life of tribals is being practically enjoyed only at the mercy of Naxalites and “anyone who tries to raise a voice against their tyrannical ways has to pay with his life. They allow young children to study till class V and target schools”.
“Salwa Judum started as a reaction by the tribals of Chhattisgarh to protect themselves against the Naxalites but it was later supported by the state government. The NHRC had found the allegations to be distortions by the human rights organisations,” said Ajay Sahni, security expert.
The investigative team also found that naxalites had blocked all development activities and any contractor who dares to take up civil work is eliminated in no time.
“This report is a refreshing change and the court will take a view but the larger issue remains, do the victims of Naxal violence have human rights or not? Naxals kill innocents with impunity,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, in-charge general secretary Chhattisgarh.