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Salwa Judum divides Congress in Chhattisgarh

The report of NCW has added fire to the fuel and difference has increased within the Congress, reports Ejaz Kaiser.

india Updated: Dec 26, 2006 20:58 IST

The observations made by the National Commission for Women (NCW) on Salwa Judum has intensified the infighting within the Congress leadership in Chhattisgarh.

Now it seems that the report of NCW added ‘fire to the fuel’ and the already existing difference has become more apparent within the Congress Party on the Salwa Judum, a self-motivated tribal movement against Maoist violence.

After its visit to Bastar region, the Commission has expressed concern over the state of tribal women and girls in the government run relief camps in Dantewada district.

Former chief minister and Lok Sabha member Ajit Jogi has strongly opposed Salwa Judum campaign since its inception citing that the operation itself being poorly planned got derailed in which hundreds of innocent tribals are brutally killed either by the naxals or by pro-Salwa Judum activists, besides resulting into their large-scale displacement. Now the NCW’s concern at the increase in atrocities on tribals who are caught in intensified conflict between the naxals and Salwa Judum campaign has given fillip to his advocacy against the movement.

Reiterating his demand to call-off such movement, Jogi lashed out at the Raman Singh government for allegedly showing no concern over the plight of poor tribals.

However the leader of opposition Mahendra Karma has called the NCW report as farce and devoid of truth. It may be noted that Karma, a senior Congress leader, is leading the movement since it’s beginning. He is critical of Jogi’s observation on Salwa Judum also. "Jogi should better visit Bastar to find out the existing reality instead of disapproving the Campaign", said Karma.

PCC President Charandas Mahant outrightly rejected the NCW report stating that since the beginning of the anti-naxal movement the women are relatively safer in the region. "Earlier naxalites exploited and badly treated women and girls but now Maoists are not able to draw enough courage to repeat such misdeeds", asserted Mahant.

As things emerged out, it is now advantage for state BJP government in securing political benefit with two key office bearers from main opposition camp rejecting the NCW findings.

NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas admitted that the report has shown apprehension for the safety and security of women living in camps in future. "We are examining the recommendations and conclusions given by the members and accordingly will advice the State and Central governments with our own suggestions", said Vyas.

The Commission has urged the Chhattisgarh Government not to pressurise villagers to join the ‘Campaign’ for fighting naxalites in the state.

Antagonised on stern opposition of the campaign by Jogi, who has emerged stronger in state Congress Party after the victory in Kota by-election, several state BJP leaders have stated that those opposing Salwa Judum are anti-national.

First Published: Dec 26, 2006 20:58 IST