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Maoists losing support of locals in Jharkhand, elsewhere

Author: Jaideep Deogharia
Publication: The Times of India
Date: September 19, 2018
URL:      https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/maoists-losing-support-of-locals-in-jharkhand-elsewhere/articleshow/65877065.cms

Often accused by security forces for using villagers as human shields and terrorising them to run their show in the forests and remote villages, CPI (Maoists) have enjoyed the support of their militia in Jharkhand and bordering states helping them to prevent eagle eyes of security men.

But cracks in their understanding with the villagers have started appearing. Early this month a senior cadre Kamlesh Kumar Ganjhu alias Birsai having reward of Rs.25 lakh surrendered before police in Daltongunj. Though the surrender was one among several in the series, it was different because it was managed by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) that not only managed to make inroads to his house but got success in convincing his wife to convince Birsai in turn.

Prior to that on July 12 this year, villagers in Bariyatu under Manika block of Latehar district gathered in huge numbers to lynch one rebel having allegiance to Jharkhand Jan Mukti Parishad, breakaway faction of the CPI Maoist. Ranjit Ram and Daroga Oraon were held up by the villagers and beaten brutally. While Ram succumbed to his injuries, Oraon managed to flee the outrageous villagers.

The rift among villagers and the rebels is not isolated in Jharkhand and has apparently spread to Chhatisgarh and its heartland-- Dandakaranya (DK) Zone that was evident from the recent incident of villagers being beaten up by the Maoists on allegations of not supporting them.

Fact finding team comprising social activists from Jharkhand visited Phulpad village in Dantewada district and came out with startling facts. Team member noted economist Jean Dreze, said that nine villagers were identified by the Maoists and beaten up severely. “The Maoists resented the fact that they had associated with the government in various ways: for instance, by building Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna houses; by going along with construction of approach road and by accepting Indira Awas,” he said.

The social activists who went on fact finding comprised Bela Bhatia, Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi apart from Dreze. They visited the village after police stated that as many as 35 villagers had been tied to tree trunks and beaten up by Maoists.

Bhatia told TOI that though the incident was presented in an exaggerated manner but the penury of the hapless villagers cannot be ignored. “Phulpad was once the bastion of Maoist movement but now there are CRPF camps and political mobilisation. 27 people have accepted Indira awas and it has exposed to the wrath of Maoist rebels who are trying to punish the villagers for siding with government,” she said.

The social activists believe that the villagers are sometimes at the receiving end from both security forces and Maoists. “If villagers refuse government schemes they are tagged as Maoists or their sympathiser and if they do accept the schemes they are branded as informers and subjected to brutality,” Bhatia said.

The villagers have been threatened by the Maoists to leave the village and settle elsewhere. One out of the nine people beaten up was an Area Commander at one time. One of the villager who was severely beaten up and is undergoing treatment in hospital is scared of returning to the village.

Dreze said that most of the vilagers are scared for their lives and unwilling to come back to their homes.
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