Deekshith DV

Daijiworld Media Network - Karkala

Karkala, Nov 26: “A shiver ran down my spine, when bullets rained down the house, damaging the wall here badly, during fierce encounters between police-naxalites, which claimed lives of two women,” says Prashanth Poojary son Ramappa Poojary, recalling a 17-year-old heart-wrenching memory of naxal-police encounter at Idu village of Karkala taluk.

It was Udupi district's first police-naxalite encounter that claimed the lives of two women suspected Naxalites Hajima and Paravati, injuring Yashoda (later court acquitted Yashoda from the charges of Naxal link) in the scuffle which took place during wee hours of November 17 in 2003. Two suspected naxals Ananda and Vishnu who were in the house managed to flee as police opened fire at them.

Remembering the incident, Prashanth Poojary says that holding three weapons, as many as five people came to their residence at 7.30 pm on November 16. “On November 17 at 3.30 am, with no time to realize what was happening, Paravathi who was guarding outside the house, suddenly leaped inside the house asking others to flee. A writhing Paravathi collapsed and succumbed due to bullet injuries. In the melee, Yashoda managed to rush to the attic. Hajima followed her but could not rush easily as she was fat. She was severely injured in the firing. Later, though she was rushed to the hospital, died on the way.

"Initially, without any arms, they used to visit the village often during day time. They were also asking people to oppose landlords and the government if they are suppressing the working class and harassing the people to evacuate their land. They were also asking people to join their movement," he added.

Though several politicians made beelines to Ramappa Poojary's residence promising Bollottu-Naravai road, a bridge at Khandige and rehabilitation packages to Ramappa Poojary's family, nothing was materialised despite 17 years of the incident.

Till date, Bollottu village does not have a proper motorable road. As there is no bridge for Suvarna rivulet in Khandige, it is very difficult to cross the rivulet during the rainy season. Though, politicians had promised to construct a new house as the house was damaged in the scuffle, till today, the government has not materialised the assurance. "At last, we built the house by availing loan from the bank" says Prashanth.

Villagers feel that naxal movement was active on the foothills of Western Ghats in those days, due to official apathy towards the development of villages. A villager also alleged that during those days, the officials of the forest department used to harass people who visited the forest to fetch forest products for their livelihood. The government's decision to evacuate people living on the stretch of the forest also may be the reason for the rise of the naxal movement in the region.

Totally, this obscure village shot into prominence after the encounter of two suspected Naxalites. Nearly 17 years of this incident, there is very little progress and the villagers feel that they were betrayed without any development.

Sudhakar Poojary who was also one of the eyewitnesses of the incident, claims that though crores of rupees was sanctioned by the government for the development of the naxal infested areas, a single penny has not been spent on Idu village. After waiting for several years, the village had got only half-a-kilometre of road asphalted. The construction of a bridge in Khandige for the rivulet connecting Bollottu to Naravi is a long pending demand.

Prashanth Poojary also claims that people living in the stretch of Western Ghats do not have clarity about the Kasturirangan report. The government should clear the doubt over the same