| The Eastern Jharkhand special area committee conducts the general meeting at Jamui’s Goli forest. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Maoists in the district have started gifting children books and study material to take up a people-friendly approach.
According to sources, the change in tactics is a bid to seek public sympathy and even shelter in times of crisis.
The rebels have started distributing learning material among children and vowed to take care of their basic educational needs.
Children in villages of Birni, Kundi, Lakhdo, Goli, Akli and others have been provided with learning material.
“We were asked to attend the meeting where top-ranking Maoist leaders were present. They hoisted the flag and several cultural performances were held,” said a villager. Many villagers acknowledged that for the first time, the rebels gifted their wards with learning material.
The Naxalites also organised an aam sabha (general meeting) inside the inaccessible Goli forest on the midnight of June 2. In the meeting that concluded on Tuesday afternoon, some selected journalists had also been called.
Prabesh alias Sahadeo Soren, the newly appointed general secretary of Eastern Jharkhand special area committee, told journalists that the rebels had started working for better organisational networking and help poor people.
Prabesh said the organisation has called a daylong bandh on June 5 in east Bihar districts and Santhal Pargana in protest against the arrest of five activists at Godda, Jharkhand, on May 31.
When asked why the rebels targeted school buildings hampering education of rural children, he said the buildings are built only to provide shelter to police personnel. “What is the need of a two-storeyed building when there are only 60-70 students? The government focused on the building and the midday meal scheme and not on quality of education. We have started private schools in 50-60 places in this region to boost studies,” he said.
In a reply to a question on why development work was stopped at gunpoint in rural areas, Prabesh said they would stop interfering if the practice of corruption and sub-standard work comes to an end. “We took up arms not by choice but by compulsion,” he said in reply to another question.
The rebel leader also lambasted the government and its agencies for suppressing the voice of poor people and curbing their fundamental rights.
Jamui superintendent of police Jitendra Rana said they have information about such a meeting in an isolated place. “Patrolling has been intensified and Central Reserve Police Force has been called in. All police stations have been asked to keep strict vigil in their respected areas,” he said.
A senior officer said: “Such meetings and distribution of study material are an eyewash to gain the villagers’ sympathy. Effective policing has already cornered the rebels, who faced heavy losses at Jamui and Munger. Now, they seek villagers’ sympathy for safe shelter in this region.”