M A I N   N E W S

Don’t recruit tribals as SPOs to fight Naxals: SC to govt
Orders CBI probe into attack on Swami Agnivesh, Dantewada arson
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 5
Expressing “horror” over the government arming illiterate tribals to combat the problem of Naxalites in utter disregard for human rights and constitutional provisions, the Supreme Court today directed Chhattisgarh and the Centre to immediately give up the practice.

“We, in this court, are not unaware of the gravity that extremist activities pose to the citizens, and to the state.” However, the Constitution does not allow the government to adopt any means to deal with the problem, a Bench comprising Justices B Sudershan Reddy and SS Nijjar ruled.

The Supreme Court ordered the state government to “immediately cease and desist” from recruiting tribals as special police officers (SPOs) or Koya Commandos and arming them to counter the Maoists or Naxalites, particularly in the Dantewada and densely forested districts of Chhattisgarh.

The court also directed the Centre to “cease and desist, forthwith, from using any of its funds for supporting, directly or indirectly, the recruitment of SPOs.” Further, the Bench ordered a CBI inquiry into the attack on social activist Swami Agnivesh during his visit to the state in March this year and the recent violence in three villages - Morpalli, Tadmetla and Timmapuram - in Dantewada district. The CBI should submit a status report within six weeks, it said.

The Bench said it was dismayed by the government’s assertion that the “only option for the state was to rule with an iron fist” to restore normalcy. It was unfortunate that the people of Chhattisgarh were affected by human rights violations committed both by the Naxalites and the government, the court noted.

The Supreme Court also blamed the government’s economic polices for the situation. “The problem rests in the amoral political economy that the state endorses. Tax breaks for the rich and guns for the youngsters amongst poor so that they keep fighting among themselves seem to be the new mantra from the mandarins of security and high economic policy of the state,” the court observed.





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