Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reds losing ground in Upperghat & Jhumra'

TNN, Apr 14, 2010, 10.05pm IST

BOKARO: Maoists seem to be fast losing ground in the Naxalite-prone Upperghat and Jhumra areas of Bokaro district. On the one hand, villagers seem to have refused to support the rebels and, on the other, many of the latter wish to return to the mainstream. This was revealed by arrested CPI(Maoist) area commander Shivcharan Manjhi and his associate Vijay Ravidas during interrogation.

Manjhi confessed before Bokaro superintendent of police Saket Singh that he was fed up of being a Naxalite and wanted to return to mainstream to give a better future to his family. Ravidas, too, confessed that he wanted to lead a normal life and make a living in towns instead of going to the jungles and becoming a Maoist.

Police seized a document from Manjhi containing Maoist plans like gheraoing several police stations, including Gomia, Nawadih and others, with the help of villagers in protest against Green Hunt. But they had to drop the idea as the villagers refused to demonstrate against the government.

Manjhi said many villagers have stopped turning up at jan adalat or take part in other activities. This, despite several villagers having been punished by the Maoists for defying them. The villagers have even categorically asked the rebel leaders why they should support them when they cannot shield them from police. "When police come and take us away, you don't come to bail us out. Then, why should I support you?" a villager had told Manjhi.

Manjhi said he had joined the Maoists in 1993. There was no option left for him to survive as the villagers used to tease and torture his family for a piece of land. They are seven brothers and sisters and it was hard to arrange two square meals as they were very poor. That forced him to join the Maoists. And, the journey began with jan adalats and triggering incidents. Manjhi was involved in the murder of Baldev Mishra, dacoity in Tandwa and various other cases. "Now, I want to return. I have three children and want to live with them peacefully. I will leave the outfit once I come out of jail," Manjhi told mediapersons.

Ravidas said after he met with an accident around nine months ago, he was left with little money for treatment. It was Bhuvaneshwar Mahto, a sub-zonal commander, who gave Rs 40,000 to his mother for treatment. After he recovered, Mahto asked him to join the outfit.

"I did not feel comfortable with them. I want to work like common people. I will settle in a town as soon as I come out of jail," said Ravidas, adding that though there are many Naxalites, who wanted to return to the mainstream, they did not know how to go about it.

Singh said police and government would welcome those Naxalites, who wanted to leave the outfit, with open arms.

Maoists have made their presence felt in dozens of villages of the Upperghat areas and Jhumra over the past one decade. The Naxalites have triggered several incidents in these areas, killing a number of policemen. The arrest of over six senior Maoist leaders and activists, including Bhuvaneshwar Mahto, Pandu Manjhi and others in the past three months, has been a major setback for the ultras in this region.

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