Porhatoli, a humble hamlet of 50 huts and pucca homes, is blinking uneasily under the spotlight of tragedy.
Around 150km away from the capital, near Kolebira in Simdega district, Porhatoli — and its local burial ground — awaits the body of its son Lucas Tete, a jamadar with Bihar Military Police (BMP), who was killed by Naxalites last evening.
Tete’s body was recovered this morning from the forests of Lakhisarai district, five days after his abduction by CPI(Maoist) along with three other policemen, and is expected to reach late tonight.
Porhatoli cannot get over the fact that they saw Tete as recently as on August 23. “Dada visited us recently. He left Porhatoli only on August 23. Whenever he came here, we made merry. He had a big heart,” Tete’s cousin Ragen told The Telegraph.
Tete, who was in his mid-50s, joined BMP more than 35 years ago. As a matriculate, he was recruited as a simple sepoy who was promoted to the rank of havildar and recently, assistant sub-inspector or jamadar.
He is survived by wife Piyari and three daughters, Angela, Manjula and Neelam. Piyari and the daughters, accompanied by two relatives, were sent to Patna yesterday by car, arranged by Jharkhand Party supporters led by general secretary Ashok Bhagat. They will accompany Tete on his last homecoming.
Tete’s is a marginal farmer’s family. “We have very little land. Our harvest yields us sufficient rice for only two or three months. This year, we couldn’t sow any paddy due to meagre rains,” said elder brother William, a sexagenarian who was a home guard in unified Bihar, drawing an unbelievable monthly pay of Rs 60.
Yet, William takes pride that “Lucas gave his life for the country while fighting rebels”. At the same time, his brow clouds with disgust over the way the government handled the abduction.
The tragedy also recalled many to a similar incident a year back, when special branch inspector Francis Indwar was abducted by Maoists in September 2009 from a rural market in rebel-hit Khunti district and beheaded. His decapitated body was recovered days later at Raisa Ghati situated on the NH-33 between Ranchi and Jamshedpur.
Today, condolence messages came pouring in at the Tete residence. “We condemn the killing. Maoists are turning out to be terrorists, killing innocent policemen who were just doing their duty,” said Jharkhand police spokesperson R.K. Mallick.
Simdega SP Anoop Birtharay visited Tete’s home this morning. “The family is grief-struck. We will take part in Tete’s last rites after the body arrives here,” he said.