The Central Bureau of Investigation has charged seven constables of the Chhattisgarh Police with arson and causing grievous hurt in raids on three villages in Sukma district in 2011. Another 26 men – many of whom are former members of the outlawed civil militia Salwa Judum and the vigilante group Samajik Ekta Manch – have been charged with rioting and violence.
Between March 11 and March 16, 2011, the police had carried out an anti-Maoist operation in the forests of Sukma district (then part of Dantewada district) in the Bastar region in Southern Chhattisgarh. During the course of the operation, the police torched more than 200 homes and granaries in the three Adivasi villages of Morpalli, Tadmetla and Teemapuram, according to The Hindu.
Residents of the villages had alleged that three women had been raped by the special police officers, a term used for poorly trained, predominantly Adivasi recruits, many of whom were former members of the anti-Maoist civil militia Salwa Judum. The police had denied the allegations and claimed the arson had been carried out by the Maoists.
Moreover, social activist Swami Agnivesh had filed a petition after he was attacked by a mob while travelling to the Chhattisgarh villages with relief supplies. The mob reportedly included special police officers and Salwa Judum members. Responding to his plea, in July 2011, the Supreme Court directed the CBI to investigate the arson and mob violence. Five years later, the CBI has indicted the police for the arson and the vigilantes for the attack on Agnivesh.
While the CBI filed its report in a Raipur court on October 17, it became public on October 21 when the Supreme Court gave a copy to the petitioner. "The justices also noted that in cases of rapes and murders where the victims were unable to identify the perpetrators, they should be give compensation under 357 A, for which a dedicated fund is available," said Agnivesh in a press release.
"The honourable justices also strongly advised the government counsel to initiate peace talks, reminding them of the example of the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for the resolution of the Colombian government war with Farc [the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], as well as the Nagaland and Mizoram settlements," he added.