Chidambaram to discuss order on SPOs with chief ministers

New Delhi, July 6: Home Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday said he would consult the chief ministers of Maoist-affected states to examine how the Supreme Court order on disarming special police officers (SPOs) would impact operations against the guerrillas.

‘I will have to discuss it (the Supreme Court order) with the chief ministers on the impact it will have on the anti-Maoist operations,’ the home minister told reporters, a day after the apex court asked the governments at the centre and in the states not to arm civilians in the name of SPOs.

Following this, the Chhattisgarh government Wednesday began disarming around 4,500 tribal youth who had been appointed SPOs as part of the Salwa Judum anti-Maoist movement, sources in the state police said.

‘We have begun disarming them, they will be kept under security at Salwa Judum relief camps because unarmed SPOs may be just like chicken for hungry tigers (Maoists),’ a source at the police headquarters in Raipur told IANS.

Police officers posted in the rebel-strongholds said the court order will hit the anti-Maoist drive as SPOs were ‘part and parcel’ of the combing squads.

The court has also asked the central government to file a compliance report regarding its order within six weeks.

‘I got a copy of the judgment very late last night. I have not read it fully. The judgment has to be read and reflected carefully. They have asked for a compliance report. I have six weeks to file the compliance report,’ Chidambaram said.

He said there were ‘many parts’ in the judgment ‘which are not controversial’ and that there were many states other than those affected by Maoist violence — like Jammu and Kashmir — where there are SPOs.

Chidambaram said the home ministry will respond to the court order only after he had studied the report fully.

IANS