In a major shift of stand, the Centre on Wednesday said it does not support the organisation leading counter-Naxalism operations “apparently” with the backing of the state government in Chhattisgarh.
“The Union government's stand has been very clear. We are not in favour of non-state actors taking law enforcement in their hands. We think the law enforcement must be the responsibility of the state government and the state police,” said Home Minister P. Chidambaram during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha.
In reply to a question from the Communist Party leader D. Raja, the Home Minister said: “Salwa Judum apparently has the support of the state government. The central government has nothing to do with the organisation."
Chidambaram said the Supreme Court is presently hearing a petition on Salwa Judum. “It would look into the legality or illegality of the issues involved,” he added.
The Centre had so far been consistent in its support to the Chhattisgarh government's decision to arm villagers to counter the outlawed Naxalites, under the highly controversial Salwa Judum body formed in 2005.
Academicians Ram Chandra Guha, Nandini Sundar and scientist Dr E. A. S. Sarma had challenged the anti-Naxal operation in the Apex court.
Earlier this year, the Centre had informed the court in April that “it had no option but to support the Salwa Judum for ensuring protection of villagers from Naxals”. More than 1,000 people have been killed in the Naxal-Judum violence during the last five years.