Salwa Judum or the “Peace-March” or a Purification Exercise was a group of civilians mobilized and in Chhattisgarh, India. Aimed at countering Naxalite violence in the region, the militia consisting of local tribal youth received support and training from the Chhattisgarh state government.
It was an innovative way to control and report the naxal operations in the regions. It helped the state government to control Naxalism in several villages in Bastar and Dantewada regions. In its essence, it was a divide and rule policy among the people and the youth of Chhattisgarh. It tapped the people’s anger against the naxal activity in Bastar. The basic premise it was built on was flawed. It saw naxals as enemy of the people in the geography. The government, in the past 46 years between today and 1967 when naxal movement began, representatives of the government have never tried to listen to or resolve the issues of the peasant groups and workers in the area. In opinion, the naxals are just a youth group which is fighting for their rights.
For the 6+ years that Salwa Judum ran 2005 to 2011, when Dr. Raman Singh publically condemned and abandoned it, the police and the civilian force killed several villages on the doubt that a particular villager was a naxal. This was especially covered and the fact the naxals were being combed from the forests and killed was celebrated, giving the political leaders who pushed its envelope unprecedented fame and power. It became even an uglier political attention seeking behavior, and this activity was favored even more.
Young children were recruited as “Salwa Judum volunteers” and trained to kill. This was documented under the Child Soldiers International report. Atrocities against suspect women was on a high, Human Rights violations at several levels-Salwa Judum has been deemed unconstitutional at several occasions by the Supreme Court.
Undue favour from the state to the anti-naxals was not in the form of protection but in the form of monetary/property support to the villagers. In addition, giving arms to someone and an authority to kill indiscriminately was a clear human rights and law and order violation.
Finally, the basic and the biggest problem with the anti-naxal action of Government of India and Government of Chhattisgarh has been non-developmental and autocratic, which precisely may be the basic reason of the outrage of the naxals.