The Hindu, 7 April: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed concern over the creation of Koya Commandos by the Chhattisgarh government and giving them arms to deal with Maoists .
A Bench of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar, taking a serious note of the statements made by social activist Agnivesh, who was attacked during his recent visit to the State, said in its order: “We direct the State of Chhattisgarh to provide the details as to under what authority and rules the Koya Commandos are appointed and arms are provided to them.”
Chhattisgarh’s response sought
The Bench, after perusing the affidavit filed by Swami Agnivesh, also sought Chhattisgarh’s response by April 15. Counsel for Chhattisgarh shall report to the Court the further developments in the matter of appointment of Commission of Inquiry.
Swami Agnivesh narrated before the Bench how when visiting a village in Dantewada last month with activists of Sri Ravi Shankar’s ‘Art of Living,’ he was attacked by the Koya Commandos. He said it showed that the Salwa Judum force continued to exist in various forms. He said he was attacked by a group of people consisting of Special Police Officers and Salwa Judum volunteers.
Mr. Justice Reddy asked senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the State: “What is this Koya Commandos? How are they appointed and how are they given training? It is very dangerous to give them arms to fight the people.”
The Bench was hearing a petition filed by Nandini Sundar and others challenging the continued presence of Salwa Judum despite denial by the government. Petitioner’s counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan read out Swami Agnivesh’s affidavit explaining the sequence of events and said the Salwa Judum was still active and the Chief Minister was indulging in double-speak and people in the three villages were denied even basic relief materials. She said that since social activist Harsh Mander and another person were already in the State, they might be asked to submit a report.
Mr. Salve submitted that the Chhattisgarh government had already ordered an inquiry into the incident by the District and Sessions judge, Bastar. He, however, said he would request the government to order an inquiry by a High Court judge, rather than by a sessions judge considering the sensitivity of the incident. He said there were conflicting versions in the media about the incident as society was divided into pro- and anti-Maoist groups.
Mr. Justice Reddy also wanted to know from the government as to how many MoUs it had entered into with multinationals recently and whether these MoUs had the effect of displacement of villagers. The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on April 15.