Monday, November 29, 1999

Haunted by guns and poverty, right next to where Maoists died

News posted by

Duli (West Bengal), June 17 (IANS) Branching off from a metalled road, a five kilometre trek on a potholed pathway leads to this village, close to the spot where eight Maoists were killed by the security forces. The very sight of outsiders sends a chill down the spine of Duli residents.Mothers clutch at their babies and run. Men and women - both young and old - also flee, as if for dear life, leaving their household chores incomplete and their doors ajar. 'No, no, don't talk to us. We have nothing to say. We have not seen anything,' a villager tells IANS, terror writ large on his face.Duli is the closest human habitation from the Ranjha forests where the Maoists, including three women, were killed in a fierce gunbattle Wednesday. The incident came just two days before the policer and paramilitary forces complete a year of operations in Lalgarh and adjoining areas of West Midnapore district to flush out the rebels.But why are the villagers fleeing?'We don't know who you are. If you are a policeman, the 'bon party' (as the Maoists are called here because they live in the forests) will kill us. And if your are from the 'bon party', police will torture us,' says the shabbily dressed villager.Duli, a village of about 45 families, is not an isolated case. The same tale holds true in the neighbouring villages of Goaldihi, Sundarpur, Baromasya, Gaighata and Harkata.An overbearing feeling of terror, lack of basic amenities like drinking water and virtually no livelihood options pervades in this village and its surrounding areas in a forested stretch of trouble-torn West Midnapore.All the villages seem dry. Except for one or two ponds, there is practically no other water source. Very few villagers have land, but they too cultivate just one crop. Some others work as agricultural labourers, but there is work only for a small part of the year.A few others earn a living by making sal leaf utensils or bidis, but can barely make ends meet. 'Many of us have to go to far away to Midnapore town to sell our goods,' says another young man, finally mustering the courage to talk to the IANS reporter.The lack of development is a prime reason why some residents have developed sympathy for the Maoist rebels, who enter the village at night.'They (the Maoists) talk to us about our problems. They speak to us about development issues. This attracts some people to their ideology,' says the young man.'It is not that the villagers have much knowledge of Maoist activities or are fond of them. But they are all caught in the crossfire between the securitymen and the Maoists,' he says.The fear factor seems all pervading. A section of the locals in these villages now spend their nights not at home, but inside dense jungles.'They are afraid of the Maoists who come at night and ask people to register their names in the rebel action squads. On the other hand, the security forces often conduct searches after dusk and torture people,' he says.However, a government official said development activities have been adversely hit due to Maoist violence. 'It is a big problem to take the fruits of development to these remote villages in the current scenario,' the official says.Caught between poverty and guns, the villagers are the ultimate victims.

News posted by

Click here to read more news from
Please follow our blogs



No comments:

Post a Comment