A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarian from Jharkhand’s Santhal Pargana range has accused the Centre of ignoring his alerts on Maoist activities in the tribal-dominated region and the possibility of Nepal Prime Minister and Maoist leader Prachanda having spent five years in the state undercover.
In a letter to Union minister of state for home affairs RPN Singh, a member of Parliament from Godda, Nishikant Dubey, pointed out that Pushp Kamal Dahal or Prachanda, as he is widely known, had said in a television interview that he had spent five years in the Santhal Pargana region of the state undercover. HT has a copy of this letter.
In fact, the likelihood of Prachanda’s presence in the Pargana and other areas of the state in the past is also indicated by a top police officer as well as a relative of the Maoist leader.
“When I was the Bokaro superintendent of police, people had told me that Prachanda was living in Jhumra Hills, a Maoist hideout, and was undergoing arms training there for sometime,” said Manvinder Singh Bhatia, the Jharkhand inspector general.
Moreover, when Prachanda was sworn in as Nepal Prime Minister, his cousin, who was working with Tata Motors in Jamshedpur, had told the media that the leader would often visit his house as a fugitive.
In other letters to the Centre, Dubey, stressed the need for including all six districts under the Santhal Pargana on the home ministry’s list of highly left-wing extremism (LWE) affected districts. Gadda is one of the six districts under the Pargana. Some of the letters were submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too.
At present, 16 out of the 24 districts in Jharkhand feature on the list of 78 districts of the country identified as highly LWE affected districts. However, none of the six Santhal Pargana districts — Dumka, Deoghar, Godda, Jamtara, Pakur and Sahebganj — is on the list.
Dubey wanted the six Pargana districts included for integrated action plan as the geographical region of the range “provides an ideal, fertile and safe breeding ground for Maoist activities”. The region borders Nepal and Bangladesh and is hilly and thickly forested.
According to Dubey, the Centre took no cognisance of his alerts, allowing the Maoist rebels to reorganise and strengthen their bases over the past four years.”
Dubey said there was no development in the Pargana, leading to abject poverty and deprivation. “About 75% of the people there live below the poverty line (BPL),” he said.
“The literacy level is abysmally low. There is no awareness among the poor tribals about the outside world as the region is cut off from the mainstream due to lack of connectivity either by rail or road. Hence, the local people give shelter to Maoists in utter ignorance.”
As there was no connectivity and infrastructure, the administration was handicapped to take punitive actions against the fugitives, the MP said.
“If something concrete is not done at the earliest, the situation may turn explosive and we may witness another Dantewada-like incident,” Dubey warned in one of his letters to the Prime Minister’s Office in 2010, soon after the massacre of 76 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Dantewada by the Maoist rebels.
Dumka inspector general of police Arun Oraon admitted that Maoists were making inroads into the Pargana, thanks to increasing mining and industrial activity in the region.
However, a senior administrative official not authorised to speak to the press said Pakur, Dumka and Godda were among the 21 districts of Jharkhand which are on the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) list.
“Hence, it would be unfair to accuse the government of overlooking the pertinent threat to the region from Maoists,” he added.