Salwa Judum was a government backed counter-insurgency militia/vigilante movement that was set up in 2005 to counter Naxals in the Dantewada and Bastar regions of Chhattisgarh. The far-left movement, that mainly inducted tribal youth, led to a dramatic decrease in Naxal violence in these resource-rich areas.
The government started Salwa Judum by inducting tribals as Special Police Officers (SPOs) under the Chhattisgarh Police Regulations. It armed them with guns and the Central Reserve Police Force gave them military and weapons training. It was the SPOs that led the Salwa Judum operations.
Over time, the teenagers formed the biggest SPO base and the movement became increasingly violent. The young SPOs were paid Rs 2,150 a month and given rice at Rs 2 a kg and free oil in exchange for their loyalty to government. That was where the problems began.
Newfound power and money led the SPOs to settle personal rivalries. They would raid tribal villages, alleging their association with insurgents. They would forcibly put the villagers in the Salwa Judum camps and force them to join SPO. “The mechanism to attract people to this government sponsored group is quite simple: Salwa Judum organises meetings in the refugee camps to indoctrinate villagers. People that refuse to participate are accused to hold linkages of friendship with Maoists and therefore facing repeated attacks by the forces of Salwa Judum,” reported Asian Tribune in 2006.
They pitted tribals against tribals, and were involved in criminal activities and gross human rights violations, like rape and torture. According to media reports, more than 2, 00,000 people have been displaced from their villages.
But over time, the group became more violent and was declared illegal by the Supreme Court and disbanded on 5 July 2011.
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Updated Date: Aug 03, 2011 22:50:26 IST