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Repentant former Naxals rebuild school they destroyed as rebels

Author: Rashmi Drolia
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 5, 2021
URL:       https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/repentant-former-naxals-rebuild-school-they-destroyed-as-rebels/articleshow/85057768.cms

Six years after Maoists razed a school building in insurgency-hit Dantewada district, it has been rebuilt, repainted and brought back to life by surrendered Maoists. The laughter of children echoed within its walls when 27 students resumed classes on Monday.

TOI had reported in November 2020 how the primary school was demolished twice in 2008 and 2015 by Maoists, and the guilt-ridden cadres decided to rebuild it brick by brick. On Monday, the former Maoists welcomed students with garlands, held their hands and walked them into their classrooms.

The school is in a forest patch in Bhansi, Masapara, about 350km south of Raipur. Dantewada collector Dipak Soni, who took the first class on Monday, told TOI: "We restarted the school six years after it was demolished by Naxals. It's important to note that those who demolished it are the very ones who rebuilt it after surrendering and joining the mainstream. When these Maoists surrendered in July 2020, they were asked what they would like to do. They said with conviction that they wanted to rebuild the school and earn their first livelihood from the labour."

The district administration sanctioned the project and work began within months. "On August 2, classes were conducted for the first time after reconstruction. The surrendered Maoists, who built it, are now building an anganwadi centre and a road to the school," the collector said.
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