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Sen warns of Salwa Judum replay in W. Bengal

From The Hindustan Times:

The Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal is trying to replicate Chhattis-garh’s Salwa Judum, which has been declared illegal by the Supreme Court, feels human rights activist Dr Binayak Sen. “Banerjee’s decision to recruit 10,000 special police constables from the insurgency-hit areas and give them posting in the same districts would only replicate the Salwa Judum model,” Sen told HT on Wednesday.

Sen, who is now a member of the Planning Commission’s committee on health, had been in in Raipur jail for several years for his alleged Maoist links. He obtained bail from the apex court a few months ago.

This is the first time he spoke on the policies of the new government in Bengal.

Banerjee, who is also trying to initiate dialogue with Maoists, had recently announced that she plans to recruit 10,000 “special police constables” from the three Maoist-affected districts – West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.

“These new recruits will be no different from the Special Police Officers in Chhattisgarh, which the Supreme Court had asked to disband,” said Sen. “This would never address the root cause of tribals’ grievances. This will be counter-productive.”

He said if the government was interested in uplifting the living standards of the locals and addressing their grievances, it would not have thought of strengthening the police infrastructure. “Why does she need so many cops? Is their no other way to employ the locals?” he asked. “As a rights activist, I’ve learnt that policing is not the way to deal with this problem. Torture on basis of suspicion only worsens the situation.”