Monday, November 23, 2009

After dusk no govt employee stays in Naugarh

Binay Singh, TNN 23 November 2009, 11:08pm IST

VARANASI: Do the government personnel fear to tread in the Naxal-affected areas of Naugarh, Jaimohini and Majhgai areas of Chandauli district?

If the report of Vinod Shankar Chaubey, state quality monitor of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) Cell and TN Singh, member of the NREGA Cell, is to be believed, most of the government employees do not stay in these areas at night.

Following the exposure of irregularities and corruption in NREGA in Chandauli district, a team headed by Chaubey camped in Naugarh to take first hand account of the situation in August last.

In their report submitted on September 9, they clearly mentioned that some police officials had suggested them to leave Naugarh before 7pm after completing the day's work. They came to know that the government officials as well as employees used to leave Naugarh and Jaimohini, Majhgai areas before sunset. Government personnel, if they are not local natives, feel uncomforted to live in these areas. They mentioned in their report that most of the government employees posted in these areas live either in Chandauli or Varanasi. Only police, PAC and CRPF stay there but they too return to their camps with dusk.

It was suggested in the report to open the office of SDM or ADM at least in Naugarh and officials and employees of all departments should live in the area to work efficiently as well as gain public confidence. They, however, felt that prevalence of Naxal ideology in tribal areas might be the reason for such a tendency in government employees. But, they strongly suggested that the presence of administrative machinery is a must in the sensitive area of Naugarh. It would not only enrich the forest and tourism potential of the region, but also enhance the quality and implementation of development work, they added.

However, the district magistrate of Chandauli Rigjiyan Samphil does not agree with the observation of the committee. "There is no need for fear. We are doing our best to maintain law and order in the region and implement development work properly," said the DM. He was holding a meeting of officials at Bhaisoda sheep farm in Naugarh area when TOI contacted him on Monday. He said efforts were being made to to revive the Bhaisoda sheep breeding farm, once the largest such centre in Asia but a neglected place today.

The DM, however, admitted that there was a need for tehsil office in Naugarh. "Work for the establishment of tehsil is on and the proposal would be forwarded to revenue department soon," said the DM.

Fear of government employees about dwelling in Naugarh is not baseless. It may be mentioned here that Naxal extremists-- posing a big challenge to the UP police -- had blown a PAC van with dynamite, killing 14 jawans of PAC and civil police including a sub-inspector in the jungles of Naugarh on November 20,2004. A day before, Naxal ultras had also blown the office of the forest ranger, killing three persons. The Communist Party of India (Maoist) had taken the responsibility of the blast.

The Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) had been active in the region for a long time. According to sources, the first FIR against MCC ultras was lodge with the Naugarh police in October 2000 and since then over 100 persons have been killed by them. With the emergence of their 'Dakshin Purvanchal Sangathanik Sib-zonal committee', the MCC activists started their activities in this region. Besides abduction and killings, they also undertook a big operation of looting 14 SLR from Khora-dih PAC camp in Mirzapur district in 2001.

Though no major operation took place in Naugarh after the November 2004 blast, sense of fear continued to prevail among people, particularly government employees and outsiders. The district administration, however, realised the backwardness of the area as the root cause of the problem and several pro-people programmes like NREGA were started in the region. "We are trying to improve the life of local masses through better implementation of government programmes and schemes," said the DM.

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