Chhattisgarh absorbing officers from disbanded outfit into police, SC told

A tribal man sits with a traditional drum at Kousila village inside a Salwa Judum camp in the Bastar region. FILE PHOTO
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing a petition alleging that the Chhattisgarh government had violated its earlier orders in the Salwa Judum case to disband special police officers, or koya commandoes, a rag tag bunch of civilians armed by the state to take on the Naxals, and instead was absorbing them into its police under a new law.

The petition filed by academician Nandini Sundar was argued before a bench, comprising Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, by lawyer Nitya Ramakrishnan.
Under the 2011 Salwa Judum judgement, the top court had asked the state government to desist from arming minors and civilians to take on the Naxals.

The bench led by Justice B. Sudershan Reddy had in 2011 also asked the state government to disband the Salwa Judum, or SPOs, or koya commandoes, by any name. That order has been violated, Ramakrishnan charged.

Justice SS Nijjar was the second judge on the bench. The state is now absorbing them into its police force under a new law, she alleged. Justice Lokur pointed at one stage that she had not challenged the law, but Ramakrishnan insisted that it was tantamount to contempt. She pointed that the 3000-odd SPOs which the top court had directed be disarmed and disbanded had been again taken into a special auxiliary force.

“The state cannot have vigilante groups under any name,” she said. She argued that the former SPOs were responsible for the recent attacks on Swami Agnivesh in the state as well as an attack on the CBI. She said that the state had also failed to act against those SPOs against whom there have been serious complaints. Besides, it had absorbed them back, she said. She accused the state of blurring the lines between maintaining law and order and containing Naxal activity.
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