‘Bread, freedom vital’

Published: Tuesday 15 February 2011

“It’s a question of freedom. Bread and freedom both are important and people must go back to their homes,” said a Supreme Court bench on January 17. It was hearing a petition seeking an independent committee to rehabilitate 40,000 tribals in Chhattisgarh, caught in the crossfire between Maoists and Salwa Judum, the state’s counterinsurgency campaign.

The violenceaffected tribals are living in relief camps in Bastar region. Sociologist Nandini Sunder, historian Ramachandra Guha and former bureaucrat E A S Sarma had filed the petition on behalf of camp residents. In the affidavit, they had demanded that the rehabilitation plan proposed by the petitioners should be implemented as “conditions in the camps are so bad even though government has full control there; camp residents want peace talks and want to go home.”

The bench asked the state to submit a report detailing its plan to rehabilitate the camp residents. The government resisted the demand for an independent committee saying rehabilitation is an “administrative task”. It, however, agreed to revamp its current rehabilitation and compensation package.

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