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Villagers see ‘plot’ in rebel surrender

- Police success story spells ‘bad news’ for Karaili, Saradhi hamlets

The surrender of 25 Maoists at Laraiyatard hamlet on May 11, a success story for Munger police, has triggered fear among the people of Karaili and Sa-radhi villages in the district.

The villagers are suspecting hidden motives behind the surrender and are anticipating heightened Maoist activity in the region. Their suspicion is not unfounded, as the Maoists haven’t surrendered their sophisticated weapons to the police, which they used during their attacks on the two villages in the past. Also, of the 25 Maoists, 14 have been forwarded to jail while 11 have been released on different grounds.

Karaili and Saradhi, two tribal-dominated, non-Yadav villages, have borne the wrath of the Maoists ever since the murder of Kabir Koda, the then mukhiya (village head) of Karaili, on July 31, 2008, at the hands of the rebels.

The terror of the Maoist attack on July 2, 2011, in which six villagers including three special police officers (SPO) were killed, is still fresh in the minds of the people.

According to police records, since 2007, at least 30 Naxalite-related cases have been reported with the Dharhara police station and more than 100 people have lost their lives in those incidents.

People of the two villages alleged that the surrender is a conspiracy by a “top-ranking” police officer in Munger to corner the tribals who have always been suppressed by the rebels. “Of the 25 rebels, 18 belong to the caste involved in the Naxalite attacks,” said a villager.

“Many Maoists, who had already obtained bails from the local court, again surrendered before the police. Now nobody would suspect them if they conspire against us,” a former SPO at Karaili said.

“Among the 25 Maoists, a majority had participated in the attack on July 2 last year. They raided our village with sophisticated arms (AK 47, Insas). Where are their arms? Why didn’t they surrender them?” asked Ashok Koda, husband of Sulo Devi, the mukhiya of Karaili panchayat.

The police said they were only following the norms by releasing the rebels.

“Seven people accused in different Naxalite cases have already obtained bail from the court. How can we send them to jail after their surrender?” said A.K. Ambedkar, inspector-general of police, Bhagalpur zone. Superintendent of police (SP), Munger, P. Kannan said another four persons — Pankaj Yadav, Monoj Sha, Pago Yadav and Maini Devi — have been set free after their surrender, as their cases are under police investigation.

Villagers claimed the local court has already issued an arrest warrant against Pankaj Yadav. Ranjan Kumar, deputy superintendent of police, Jamalpur, however, said the warrant against Pankaj mentioned his age as 25 years but his school document (Matriculation certificate) shows his date of birth as 1995.

“Since he was made an accused in a 2010 case, his actual age was only 15 years at the time of the incident. Hence, we have put his case under police investigation and set him free,” Ranjan said.

“After the surrender episode, the people there (Laraiyatard) have started demanding shifting of the police camp from our village to theirs. They claim they are feeling threatened after the surrender of the rebels. But if the camp is shifted from here (Karaili), we would be in trouble again,” said a villager in Karaili.

Political observers here claim the surrender was nothing but a “high-level drama”. “The members of a particular caste, who earlier supported the RJD, have now shifted the-ir loyalties towards the ruling JD(U). A former mukhiya is the brain behind the surrender. He wants to develop his proximity with the administrative circle. He even influenced people with no Naxalite record to surrender before the police,” an observer said.

Of the 25 Maoists, Pago Yadav of Laraiyatard doesn’t not have any Naxalite case against him. He surrendered on the pretext that he had some “connections” with the rebels. “Persons like Pago would not even enjoy any post-surrender rehabilitation benefits,” he pointed out.

Ambedkar strongly disagreed with the fear of Karaili people. “What is wrong if 25 Maoists surrendered before the police? People should not project it otherwise… They should not have any fear because a majority of the people, who were once misguided, have started returning to the mainstream of society,” he said, ruling out shifting of the police camp from Karaili in near future.