Now into its fifth year, controversial anti-Naxalite campaign Salwa Judum is transforming into a “non-cooperation movement” in the tribal Bastar region of Chhattisgarh with its top activists changing strategy from direct conflict to creating awareness among tribals to isolate the rebels. Senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma, a frontline anti-Naxalite campaign leader who stood with the ruling BJP in its fight against the rebels, speaks to Joseph John about the changing face of Salwa Judum.
Salwa Judum observed its fifth foundation day on June 5. For the past two-and-a-half years, there have been virtually no activities like rallies or public meetings on the ground in Bastar. What is the future of this movement?
After serious thought, we have changed the decision on how to go about our campaign against the Maoists. A new strategy has been worked out during the foundation day meetings where it was decided that anti-Naxal campaign activists would visit the villages and make the people aware that they should not extend any cooperation to the Naxalites. We don’t want any direct fight or conflict. We want to create such awareness so that the villagers themselves will request the Maoists with folded hands: “Let us be, leave us to our conditions”. This non-cooperation campaign is in its preliminary stage and is confined to few villages. It will be gradually extend to other Naxalite affected villages.