In an effort to revive the anti-Naxalite movement,Salwa Judum,a large number of villagers attended a public meeting at Bijapur,one of the worst Maoist-affected districts in tribal Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.
Nearly 2,000 people from nearby villages attended the meeting on Wednesday where its leaders called upon the people to revive the anti-Naxalite campaign,which had slowed down during the last one year.
Addressing the gathering,Salwa Judum leader Hanif Khan said,The movement had weakened for the last six months because of political reasons. The Maoist rebels took advantage of the situation and killed several innocents. Salwa Judum has to be accelerated to drive out the Naxalites from the area, he announced.
Madhukar Rao,another Salwa Judum leader,described the anti-Naxalite campaign as apolitical,saying anyone trying to politicise it will face the music; we will teach them a lesson. He also said that development works in the Bastar region had been badly affected because of violence and bloodshed unleashed by the Naxalites.
Naxalites are killing innocent villagers. We have to unite to take anti-Naxalite campaign forward to drive the insurgents out of Bastar, he added.
The anti-Naxalite campaign meeting at Bijapur assumes significance as it is the first after the BJP Government,which had extended all support to Salwa Judum during the last three years,retained power in the recent Assembly elections. State governor E S L Narasimhan,in his address to the newly-elected state legislative Assembly,had made it clear that the state Government would continue to support the peace campaign of the tribals of Bastar.
Salwa Judum was started in June 2005 after a group of tribals launched a movement in south Bastar to create awareness among the masses against Naxalism and to isolate the rebels. As the campaign spread with Salwa Judum activists organising rallies and public meetings,the Maoists retaliated with violence,killing villagers who participated in these rallies and meetings.