With the Congress party dissociating itself from the revival of the anti-Maoist Salwa Judum campaign and the BJP government in Chhattisgarh yet to take a stand on it, the move to relaunch the second phase of the movement in strife-torn Bastar has been dropped.
Chhavindra Karma, the son of slain Congress leader Mahendra Karma who launched Salwa Judum in 2005, had earlier announced that the people’s militia would be revived from the Maoist hotbed of Dantewada on May 25.
However, Chhavindra has now made a U-turn and said the meeting next week would focus on peace and development.
“How could the revival of Salwa Judum be planned by me when the Supreme Court has banned it? We called the meeting under the aegis of the Vikas Sangharsh Samiti to delve into the issue of peace and development in the region,” he said.
The government-aided village defence force comprising armed young tribal men was accused of looting homes, burning down villages and displacing thousands of people. The Supreme Court declared the militia illegal in 2011 and ordered its disbanding.
The re-launch date for the Salwa Judum campaign announced earlier by Chhavindra was meant to coincide with the third anniversary of an audacious attack by the rebels in which 20 Congress leaders, including Mahendra Karma, and seven others were killed.
“After the demise of Mahendra Karma, the morale of the Maoists has gone up. This concerns us,” Chhavindra said. The May 25 congregation in Dantewada will offer condolences for Congress leaders, he added.
While the ruling BJP remains undecided, Congress has stated it has nothing to do with the movement. “We do not support it,” said party general secretary BK Hariprasad.
Maoist guerrillas have threatened a violent backlash against any attempt to revive Salwa Judum, saying it was aimed at selling off the state’s natural resources to “domestic and foreign capitalists”.