Bid to win public trust on Red turf

Residents of Tilophar village in Rohtas district attend the Jan Samvad programme on Thursday. (Sanjay Choudhary)

Patna: The Rohtas district police administration organised a jan samvad (public interface) at Tilophar village close to the Uttar Pradesh border on Thursday to address the problems faced by local residents, especially tribals.

Around 3,000 residents hailing from over a dozen villages such as Tilophar, Shahpur, Diara Kalakhurd, Yadunathpur, Amajhua, Parsa, Chutia and Dumarkho under the jurisdiction Nauhatta police station took part in the programme, the first-of-its-kind in the Naxalite-hit district, defying a ban on doing so.

Most complaints were related to land dispute, government apathy in building roads, provision for sand-lifting from Sone river and payment of less wages in the region.

Devanand Mahto, the former mukhiya of Shahpur, drew the attention of the officials towards non-availability of sand, which has adversely affected construction work in the region. "The residents have to go to Tilauthu for sand despite the fact that the villages are located on the banks of the Sone river. If any sand ghat is allotted to somebody in the area, the residents will heave a sigh of relief and lead to smooth construction of houses and buildings," he told police officers.

Binod Ram of Parsa drew the attention of the officials towards lack of link road to the village, which has over 200 houses of Dalits.

"We are fed up with writing letters to the department concerned but to no avail," Binod said, adding that the link roads would speed up development work in the village.

Shailendra Singh, a native of Dumarkhurd, pointed out that the lack of approach road caused much delay in arrival of the police during any major Naxalite-related incident.

"If the roads are built, it will take not more than an hour to arrive on the spot. On an average, it takes at least four hours to reach the village," he told police officers.

Asputania Kuer, a resident of Chutia, lamented that the district administration had failed to provide land to the people below the poverty line even after two decades of ownership purchase given to them. The residents had tried to contact the circle officer umpteen times but in vain.

Usha Kuer of Tilokhar alleged that she was paid only Rs 100 per day against her work under the mid-day meal scheme of the government. On the contrary, there was provision for payment of Rs 200 per day under MGNREGA. "We are paid less wages than the MGNREGA workers in the midday meal scheme," she lamented.

A number of tribals alleged that they were prevented from plucking fruits from the forest by the forest department officials despite chief minister Nitish Kumar's announcement at Rehal village on the Kaimur plateau recently. Rohtas divisional forest officer (DFO) S. Kumar Sami, however, clarified that the ban had been enforced on the directive of the Supreme Court.

"If the residents have any grudge against the forest department officials on this front, they can move the apex court to get any relief," the DFO revealed.

Rohtas superintendent of police Satyaveer Singh said the jan samvad will be organised in the Naxal infested villages every 10-15 days.

"We have also launched an awareness campaign on child marriage, dowry and consumption of liquor at the programme," he told The Telegraph.

The programme, which started at 12 noon, concluded around 2.30 pm. Around 3000 local inhabitants gathered at the Gandhi Maidan to apprise the officials of their problems. "Most of the complaints were related to land disputes," the SP Satyaveer Singh said.

Departing from the earlier practice of organising such programmes at police stations, the 'Jan Samvad' are being held at different venues, primarily to ensure that the participants feel free in expressing their problems," the SP clarified.

The initiative comes in wake of recent directive of the state government to all the district magistrates and the superintendents of police to spend at least two days in rural areas.


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