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Rebels hold hamlet to ransom, seek picket removal

Ranchi, Sept. 2: Residents of Chak, a village under Manatu police station area of Palamau, have earned the wrath of Naxalites after setting up a police picket, to keep the rebels at bay.

Now, the red army wants the picket, established some two months ago, removed from the village.

Residents complain that Naxalites, with the help of its frontal organisation Krantikari Kisan Committee (KKC), have put up posters across the village ordering people to shut their shops till the picket is removed.

A resident, on the condition of anonymity, said the rebels have also warned nearby villages against dealing with Chak residents.

Chak comprises 250 households and is situated near the Chatra border.

With shops closed, life in the village has been adversely affected for the past 15 days with residents struggling to maintain a normal life. Police officers deputed there conceded that treating ailing villagers has been proving increasingly difficult, with medicine supply falling short. For the past 10 days, new supply has not reached the area.

“Schools, banks and establishments in the village are shut. Uncertainty now looms large over the village with residents having no idea of when the Naxalites would lift the blockade,” an officer said.

Sources said police officers tried to convince some shops owners to return to business as usual, but villagers refused, not daring to challenge the Naxalites, who are known for their merciless treatment of police informers and helpers.

Police spokesperson and inspector-general of police (provision) S.N. Pradhan confirmed the siege.

“Businesses in the area have been closed for the past week due to the demand.” He, however, said that movement of vehicles and schools had not been disrupted.

Chak is the same village where Naxalites shot a JAP-1 constable, Ramesh Chhetri (29), while injuring a jamadar, Sunil Chhetri (28), in the morning of August 14, and then went on to attack a police picket in the same day.

The rebels, sources said, have been demanding the removal of the picket alleging that the personnel violate the human rights of the residents.

According to them, the police officers there often threaten the “dignity of women” and terrorise villagers by their presence.

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