Lo­cated in the hilly and forested ter­rain sofj hum rap ahar,sarju vil­lage in Garu Tehsil of this dis­trict was, till a few years ago, known as a “Maoist ci­tadel”. Now it is de­vel­op­ment that is talk of the area. A multi-pronged ap­proach com­bin­ing ini­tia­tives of the se­cu­rity forces and the Jhark­hand gov­ern­ment’s de­vel­op­ment poli­cies has in­stilled hope in the lo­cals.

Ofi­cials claim the ul­tra-left Maoist mil­i­tants are now re­turn­ing to the main­stream and the vil­lagers, who were their vic­tims, want mo­bile con­nec­tiv­ity, roads to their homes, ed­u­ca­tion, jobs and other de­vel­op­men­tal mea­sures.

In a re­cent pub­lic out­reach pro­gramme or­gan­ised by the dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tion at the com­pound of the Sarju school, hun­dreds of vil­lagers turned up with their de­mands and com­plaints. One of them, Ma­mata Devi, said: “We want jobs. There must be some train­ing cen­tres so that we can earn bread and but­ter for our fam­ily.”

Tara­muni Devi, a mukhiya or vil­lage head, com­plained about poor roads and ir­ri­ga­tion prob­lems while a youth raised the is­sue of lack of ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. “For in­ter­net con­nec­tion, we have to go ive km away,” he said. Ra­jiv Ku­mar, Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Late­har, as­sured the vil­lagers that their de­mands would be fulilled and is­sues sorted out.

“Who among you have not got gas cylin­ders? Are your chil­dren go­ing to schools? Are you get­ting vridha (old-age) pen­sion,” Ku­mar asked the vil­lagers, and most of them re­spond with “Yes”.

Chorha is the gram pan­chayat of Sarju vil­lage. While the to­tal geo­graph­i­cal area of the vil­lage is 172 hectares, Sarju has a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of about 1,000 peo­ple. Garu is the near­est town. The CRPF’S 214 bat­tal­ion has made its base camp in Sarju, and with the help of the dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tion they are try­ing to in­still hope in the vil­lagers and ask­ing the Maoists to re­turn to the main­stream.

Sak et ku­mar singh, dig atjharkh and Jaguar, a Spe­cial Task Force (STF) to counter ex­trem­ist ac­tiv­i­ties in­jharkh and, told IANS: “The Maoists have no cadres now. The or­gan­i­sa­tions are left with their lead­ers only. They do not have any speciic hide­out. They keep roam­ing from one place to an­other.”

Prashant Anand, SP of Late­har said: “Their ac­tiv­i­ties have been restricted to only some pock­ets. Their splin­ter groups are ac­tive but they don’t get vil­lagers’ sup­port. Vil­lagers sup­port us and in­form us when­ever they see any ac­tiv­ity (of Maoists).” Speak­ing about the modus operandi of Maoists, he said that they come in a group of four and ive and ask vil­lagers to give four-ive youths.

“They take them and ini­tially in­volve them in cook­ing and other me­nial work. Later, they train them and push them ahead dur­ing an op­er­a­tion. Once their name ap­pears in the po­lice record, the Maoists in­still fear in them that if they re­turn, they will be killed. Be­cause of that fear, they do not join the main­stream.”

R.K. Mal­lick, Ad­di­tional D.G. (Ops), said that in the present sce­nario the sphere of in­lu­ence of Nax­als has been se­verely restricted and mainly conined to few pock­ets in the bor­der­ing ar­eas of ad­join­ing states and some in­te­rior, in­ac­ces­si­ble ar­eas within the state.

“The last six months in Jhark­hand have been ex­cep­tional on the Naxal front. There has been a 24 per cent re­duc­tion in in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence, 31 per cent re­duc­tion in civil­ian killings, 100 per cent in­crease in ex­change of ire and 59 per cent in­crease in arms re­cov­ered -- all pa­ram­e­ters of op­er­a­tional efi­ciency.

“Till Au­gust this year, 40 suc­cess­ful en­coun­ters against Nax­als took place, in which 24 Nax­als were neu­tralised,” he said.

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