Ten tribal men, accused of killing 76 CRPF troops in Chhattisgarh three years back, have been acquitted for want of evidence. Kartam Joga, the petitioner against Salwa Judum in the Supreme Court, and zila panchayat member of CPI from Konta, has been acquitted by the Dantewada district court along with nine other accused. After Kartam Joga’s release, CPI took out a victory parade at their Sukma district headquarters under the leadership of Manish Kunjam.
Both CPI and Joga’s relatives have been saying all along that the police action was retaliation. TEHELKA had inquired into the matter after Joga’s arrest (Is CPI the next target in Bastar, Tehelka Vol 7, Issue 40, October 2010). The police had produced 43 witnesses in court. But ADJ Anita Dehriya found no substance in the police theory that the accused had killed the CRPF jawans and looted their weapons. In Tadmetla case, the police had filed chargesheet against 92 people, 82 of the accused are yet to be arrested.
Along with Kartam Joga, Poyam Ganga, Podiyam Hidma, Kawari Budra, Duro Joga, Barse Lakhma, Madkam Ganga, Rajesh Nayak, and Madwi Dula have been in jail since September 2010. During the last two and a half years, the prosecution has not been able to prove a single charge. Joga’s lawyer Ashok Jain told TEHELKA that besides Tadmetla, the police have also filed cases against the accused of being involved in other cases of naxal violence. Joga had already been acquitted of other charges earlier.
Joga had filed a case against Salwa Judum in the Supreme Court. It is believed such cases were filed against them in retaliation. Meanwhile, CPI leader Manish Kunjam has hailed the courts decision as victory of justice.