Perhaps Ramachandra Guha is pulling a few punches in this article. I have read the report he helped file with the Independent Citizens Initiative and I think this article downplays exactly how terrifying the Salwa Judum really are. In his own report the human rights activists were harassed by a mob of Salwa Judum members and had their camera confiscated. An excerpt from a police transcript they printed said that the police were ready to shoot journalists if they got too close to the real story of Salwa Judum.
Two weeks ago I traveled through Chhattisgarh while working on a radio story for a major American broadcaster and I saw roving mobs of axe- and AK-47-carrying cadres threatening everyone who passed their checkpoint. The local police chief of a refugee camp called Dornapal said he was too scared to leave his station to meet us because the day before he had been assaulted by the local mob.
Salwa Judum is a classic example of the cure being worse than the disease. While I agree with Mr. Guha that the Maoists are dangerous and refuse to negotiate with the Indian government, at least they have an ideology. You can sort of predict what the Maoists might do next. Salwa Judum have no ideology. They understand only power.
One police officer I spoke to said that arming the Salwa Judum SPOs may have been their biggest mistake. He fully expects that in a few years the police will be fighting two insurgencies instead of just one.
Sep 24 2007 - 6:04am