Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It’s a horrible life

B.Satyanarayana ReddyFirst Published : 29 Dec 2008 07:51:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 29 Dec 2008 03:06:34 PM ISTKHAMMAM: Jogiah was a happy man. A more or less prosperous farmer with five acres in his name, a caring wife and three pretty children at home, life seemed wonderful. But that was all so long ago.

‘‘Life couldn’t be any worse than this. I can hardly feed my children. I wish I had died,’’ he sobs, signs of a defeated man writ large on his face.

Madivi Jogiah, was a resident of Bejji village in Chhattisgarh which hit the headlines three years ago when over 25 policemen were killed in a landmine blast triggered by Naxalites.

Subsequently, police and the Salwa Judum burnt down most of the houses in his village and killed many suspecting them to be Naxal informants and sympathisers.

Jogaiah managed to escape with his wife and children.

He thanked his stars and began life anew as a daily wage labourer. But today he repents having run away from his native place.

‘‘I can feed my children only once a day. They can’t go to school. And, the police here pester us to leave on the suspicion that we are Naxal supporters,’’ he laments. Jogaiah’s case is not an isolated one. He is one among many such who have crossed the border to settle in Paloancha and Bhadrachalam divisions. With the police breathing down their neck here too, even locals turned hostile forcing the poor families deep into the forests.

Over 60 people have died in the forests of the Bhadrachalam division alone in the past one year due to Malaria.

‘The nearest hospital for any of these Gotti Koya habitations is over 20 km. These people have no access whatsoever to any safe drinking water source. Most of their children, whose education has been suddenly stopped, might just get attracted towards the Naxals,’’ says an official on condition of anonymity.

Because of their alleged connections with Naxals, as is believed by the police, most employers in the nearby villages do not give them jobs. The government, which has only recently woken up to this unfolding tragedy, is still a long way off from providing them basic necessities.

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