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Saturday, July 9, 2011
NAXAL MENACE: Maoists offer 'amnesty' for SPOs who quit police!
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A file picture of tribals living in a Salwa Judum camp. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury - The Hindu.
The Maoists have promised to "rehabilitate" and resettle all Special Police Officers (SPOs) in Chhattisgarh who sever all connections with the State machinery and return to their villages, according to a signed press release dated July 7 this year.
The Communist Party of India (Maoist) press release was issued in the backdrop of a July 5 Supreme Court judgement ruling that the use of armed SPOs in anti-Maoist operations was unconstitutional and must cease immediately.
SPOs are individuals employed on a temporary basis to assist regular police units in various operations.
In Chhattisgarh, the term refers to about 5,000 young, tribal men who were armed with high-powered assault rifles in the mid-2000s and deployed at the forefront of the State government’s counterinsurgency operations directed at the tribal militias of the banned CPI (Maoist).
The men were recruited from former Maoist cadres and village populations living in police camps in the aftermath of the Salwa Judum — a 2005 programme described as either a spontaneous tribal uprising against the Maoists, or a State-backed policy of 'strategic-hamletting' aimed at creating schisms in tribal society. A petition filed in the Supreme Court in 2007 describes the Salwa Judum as an unaccountable vigilante force responsible for over 500 murders, 99 rapes and 103 acts of arson.