More cops killed in Chhatisgarh than J&K due to Maoists: Centre

New Delhi: More policemen were being killed in Chhattisgarh every year due to the Maoist problem, than in militancy-prone Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre today told the Supreme Court.

It said the mineral rich state was facing the problem of left-wing extremism, which has created a serious law and order situation.

The Centre told a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud that a writ petition filed by two teenage sisters, Suneeta Pottam and Munni Pottam, be allowed to be decided by the high court.

“We in Chhatisgarh are facing a very peculiar problem of Naxalites. More policemen are being killed in the state every year than in Jammu and Kashmir. This is a very serious law and order situation,” Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by the two girls of Chattisgarh seeking transfer of their petition pending before the high court at Bilaspur, in which it was alleged that police had conducted six extra-judicial killings and a 10-year-old child in Bijapur district of Bastar region of the state had disappeared in 2015-16.

The sisters had alleged that those killed in fake encounters between 2015 and 2016 were ordinary villagers and not Maoists.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners, said a similar petition filed by activist Nandini Sundar was pending in the top court and the instant petition can be taken up along with it.

Chhattisgarh standing counsel Atul Jha said the case could be transferred from the high court to the apex court if it involves same or substantially the same question of law, but in the present case, there was no ‘question of law’ framed or is it related to petition of Sundar.

“It would be wrong to submit that alleged human rights violations would itself constitute a question of law. There is no question of law framed, which would attract the provisions of Article 139-A(1) of Constitution,” he said, opposing the transfer petition.

He said Sundar’s petition dealt with Salwa Judum which is now a “dead movement” in the state. Salwa Judum, meaning ‘purification hunt’ in tribal Gond language, was a private militia mobilised and deployed to counter the Naxalite menace in the region.

Jha said in the transfer petition, there was no allegation of bias made against any particular quoram and no ground of “institutional bias” was sought to be canvassed.

The bench said it would take up the matter along with Sundar’s petition on February 5.

The petition said that encounters were conducted in the name of counter-insurgency operations in the Maoist-affected areas of the state.

It said that in four encounters, Sukkum Kunjam, Kuhdami Ganga, Tati Pande and Manoj Hapka were killed by security forces, while a 10-year-old child went missing in February 2016. (PTI)

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