By Annie Banerji

In a case where the federal government was excoriated due to its passivity on anti-extremist violence, India’s Supreme Court took matters into its own hands to rein in the Salwa Judum counter-insurgency movement in the central state of Chhattisgarh.

The apex court on Tuesday prohibited the recruitment of tribal youth as special police officers (SPOs) in the Salwa Judum, which means “campaign for peace”.

“The appointment of tribal youth as SPOs, who are barely literate, for temporary periods, and armed with firearms, had endangered and will necessarily endanger the human rights of others in society,” the judiciary said in its order.

Salwa Judum, which originated in Chhattisgarh in 2005, is a people’s movement against Maoist insurgents.

Quite contrary to its name, Salwa Judum is anything but peaceful. The anti-Maoist movement, adopted by the state government to reinstate democratic governance to affected regions, functions with guns, sticks and bows and arrows against not only left-wing extremists, but apparently also security personnel and innocent tribal folk.