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Maoist bind in poll-bound state

- Truce truths behind deep mistrust of mainstream governance on rebel turf

Ranchi, March 30: In a small state where the Union home ministry classifies at least 13 of its 24 districts as “very sensitive” from the point of view of “Left-wing extremism” and Maoists hold poll boycott bandhs, conducting “peaceful, free and fair” Lok Sabha elections is a tough administrative call.

As the machinery gears up with special security cover to tackle polling in identified rebel-hit districts — Khunti, Gumla, Latehar, Simdega, West Singhbhum, Ranchi, Dumka, Giridih, Palamau, Garhwa, Chatra, Lohardaga and Bokaro — a surrendered Maoist, on the other end of the spectrum, voices his deep mistrust in governance.

Former Maoist area commander Marshal Tuti, at present an inmate of Hazaribagh open jail, told The Telegraph he didn’t understand how the “mainstream” worked.

Tuti, who gave himself up to the state under its much-touted surrender policy three-and-a-half years ago, said his hopes of the promised speedy trial had been crushed.

On paper, Jharkhand has a holistic, even glowing, surrender policy to lure rebels back into the mainstream. But its very lack of implementation makes it a poster child for Maoist justification that governance and democracy are worthless.

Jharkhand’s surrender policy promises speedy trial, Rs 2.5 lakh in three installments as well as the amount the rebel carried on his head, a monthly compensation of Rs 3,000 with employment training, four decimals of government land and Rs 50,000 cash to construct a house. These apart, free life-long medical facility, free education up to Class X for children and even aid for marriage of daughters, count among several incentives for surrender.

Additional director general of special branch Rezi Dungdung said of the 51 rebels who surrendered across the state since 2008, 24 were still in jail. Of the 24, 16 were in open jail.

“I was told I did not need to stay in jail for a day. I am here for three-and-half years. My wife (Salomi Tuti) is running from pillar to post for my release. My school-going daughters are suffering. The security of my wife and daughters is my biggest concern,” Tuti said.

Though skewed development and rural poverty are said to have originated rebel violence, instances of mainstream “betrayals” like these widen the rift.

Pata nahi sarkar Naxali ko khatam karna chahti hai ya nahi. Kuch kar hi nahin rahi hai. (Don’t know if the government is serious about uprooting Naxalism. It isn’t doing anything),” Tuti, who finds himself stuck between both Maoist and mainstream ideologies, said.

He wondered what he gained by his surrender. “I have no earnings, my wife is running around for my release and my daughters are harassed by their school management for fees,” he said.

“No wonder, no one surrendered after 2010-11. As a surrendered Maoist, I get all the security worries from one end and no succour from the government,” he summed up.

A close friend of Tuti, who did not wish to divulge his name, told The Telegraph that the area commander had surrendered on August 5, 2010, with his carbine before then director-general of police Neyaz Ahmed.

“Tuti’s two daughters study in a good missionary girls’ school in Mandar. Authorities warned his wife that unless she paid their outstanding fees amounting to around Rs 30,000 immediately, their studies would be discontinued. Naturally, Tuti is agitated. At the time of his surrender, the state assured him of proper education to his children. The promise is not being kept,” he said.

Showing rare candour, deputy inspector-general of police (South Chotanagpur) Praveen Kumar, who had ensured the surrender of some 20 Maoists from in and around Ranchi as SSP of the district in 2010-11, supported Tuti.

“Tuti hadn’t expected such delays in trial. His grievance is genuine and proper step is being taken for its redress via advocates. Tuti apart, one Sudama Mahto alias Chand Mahto, former area commander of Bundu-Chandil area, who surrendered with arms on August 19, 2010, before DIG (South Chotanagpur range) Sampat Meena, is also facing a similar problem,” he said.


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