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In resentment against Pancheshwar dam, Maoists fish for cadres 

Seeking to create a base in Uttarakhand and replenish their ranks, the Maoist sympathisers are eyeing the growing resentment over the Pancheshwar hydropower project planned on the Mahakali river

dehradun Updated: Oct 05, 2017 20:03 IST
Abhinav Madhwal
The point where the Pancheswar dam is proposed to come up in Pithoragarh.
The point where the Pancheswar dam is proposed to come up in Pithoragarh. (Rajeev Kala//HT Photo)

Seeking to create a base in Uttarakhand and replenish their ranks, the Maoist sympathisers are eyeing the growing resentment over the Pancheshwar hydropower project planned on the Mahakali river.

The proposed joint project between India and Nepal would displace thousands of people on both the sides with at least 35 villages, including 24 in the border districts of Pithoragarh and Champawat, to be directly affected. Working to create a cadre base, the Maoists are now concentrating on the displacement issue, raising it among the people who are likely to be affected and whose land is likely to be submerged in Mahakali waters.

This was revealed by Maoist Zonal committee member Devendra Singh Chamyal, who was arrested from Chorgaliya in Nainital district last month. The Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) arrested Chamyal alongwith his accomplice Bhagwati Bhoj from a bus. Chamyal told the investigators that he had worked with the Maoists in Jharkhand for four years and had moved to Uttarakhand to revive the Maoist movement.

He also revealed that the top Maoist leadership felt that the issue of Pancheshwar dam, which would displace a large number of people, could be milked to their benefit. Chamyal told the officials that they had already gone to the area likely to be affected by the Pancheshwar dam and stoked the feelings of the people against this multipurpose hydro power project, which once commissioned, is likely to generate 5040 Megawatts of electricity

Khim Singh Bora alias Vijay Pehru, another Maoist commander who is wanted by the Uttarakhand Police, is also said to be hiding in Almora district and is making moves for spreading the ultra-Left ideology among the people who are antagonized by the Pancheshwar dam.

Purushottam Sharma of Lalkuan who is the also the state president of Akhil Bharatiya Kissan Mahasabha said they are opposing the Pancheshwar dam as the massive reservoir would be vulnerable to sabotage and earthquakes that could wreak havoc downstream. Sharma said that believing in the philosophy of Mao was not a crime; it was a crime only when violence was committed. “At present there is resentment against the government and this could be a ploy of the government to curtail the resentment of the people,” Sharma said, alleging that the agencies also stoke up the issue of Maoist activities so as to receive funds in the name of police modernization.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Nainital, Janmejay Khanduri said that the information that the Maoists were trying to make a base among the people who would be displaced by the dam has been relayed to the security and intelligence agencies of the concerned districts of Pithoragarh and Champwat. “The agencies are on the alert and are trying to see to it that the Maoists do not succeed in their efforts,” the SSP said.