April 28, 2008
Shri Raman Singh
Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh
Dear Chief Minister Singh:
Human Rights Watch is an independent, non-governmental international organization that monitors human rights developments in over 70 countries around the world.
We conducted an investigation into human rights issues in Dantewada and Bijapur districts of Chhattisgarh from November 2007 through February 2008.
We are extremely concerned about the suffering of ordinary civilians who are caught in the middle of the conflict between Naxals and the Salwa Judum and government security forces. We found that all parties have been responsible for serious human rights abuses. However, abuses by the Naxals do not justify abuses, including killings, beatings, abductions, arbitrary detentions, and looting and burning of villages, by Salwa Judum members with the support of the security forces.
We will be issuing a report in mid-2008 based on information collected during the research mission. Before we issue this report, we are keen to incorporate your governments views on how these problems can be addressed. In particular, we would like to include your views on the development, impact, and outcomes of Salwa Judumspecifically, your responses to the questions annexed to this letter.
We appreciate your responding to our questions, which if received by May 15, 2008, will be taken into consideration in the preparation of our report. Responses may be emailed (firstname.lastname@example.org) or faxed (+1-212-736-1300) to us.
We also stand ready to engage in dialogue with you about important human rights concerns in Dantewada and Bijapur, and possible solutions to the problems faced by tribal communities in the region.
List of questions for your response:
- Following NGO and fact-finding reports that government officials including police were involved in human rights abuses committed by Salwa Judum, has the government initiated any action against any government official (including police officials) before the Supreme Court ordered the NHRC investigation on April 15, 2008? Please furnish details including names of officials, nature of action initiated, when such action was initiated, and any outcome.
- Given the nature of accusations of involvement of senior state police officials and government security forces in human rights abuses, what precautions is the government taking to ensure that such officials are not involved in investigations?
- What measures is the government taking to protect victims and witnesses while deposing before NHRC?
- What steps has the government taken to prevent custodial torture and arbitrary arrest and detention of persons alleged to be Naxals? Has the government investigated any allegation of arbitrary detention and arrest of alleged Naxals?
- What steps has the government taken to trace persons who have gone missing after Salwa Judum started?
- Has the government developed a scheme for safe return and rehabilitation alternatives for residents of government-run Salwa Judum camps (also known as relief camps or base camps)?
- What steps has the government taken to ensure protection and humanitarian assistance to persons from Chhattisgarh who fled and settled in Andhra Pradesh?
- Following NGO and fact-finding reports that the government has recruited under-age SPOs, what measures has the government taken to identify and rehabilitate underage SPOs? How many underage SPOs were identified and rehabilitated? Please furnish details.
- What measures has the government taken to identify and rehabilitate child Naxals? Is there any special scheme for rehabilitating child Naxals? If yes, then please furnish a copy of the scheme.