Family of Maoist attack victims see red over ‘rewards’ to surrendered rebels
Critics say the government has short-changed justice in trying to secure peace.india Updated: May 19, 2017 16:01 IST
Many in Jharkhand are seeing red after the state government rolled out the red carpet for Maoist commander Kundan Pahan who surrendered last week.
Pahan was no ordinary insurgent. Charged with 128 criminal offences, including 77 murders, his surrender to the police was hyped by the state faced with stubborn Left-wing Extremism (LWE) as yet another success in its policy of wooing Maoists to the mainstream.
But those who see themselves as victims of Pahan’s terror are livid. A lawyer has moved the Jharkhand high court with a plea to scrap the policy while the widow of an ex-MP killed by the Maoists is camping in New Delhi to petition the prime minister.
Vikas Munda, a legislator of the All Jharkhand Students’ Union Party (AJSU), is sitting on a dharna in Ranchi for the last three days, demanding a CBI probe into the stage-managed surrenders.
“It’s shameful,” said Suman Mahato, the widow of slain Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MP Sunil Mahato, killed by CPI (Maoist) rebels in 2007.
“The state government seems to have bowed down to the rebels. The Maoists are surrendering at their will and on their own terms while police are rolling out the red carpet for them,” she lamented.
Critics say the government has short-changed justice in trying to secure peace.
Pahan’s surrender has revived memories of Maoist terror among those affected by it. The MP’s widow is yet to come to terms with her husband’s murder while he had gone to inaugurate a football match as the chief guest. The killers apparently initially posed as spectators before getting within close range and shooting him. Three others were killed.
The alleged killers surrendered last March. They are said to have been lodged in an open jail fitted with air conditioners, prompting the MP’s widow to protest against the surrender policy. A common grouse of victims’ families is that the surrendered Maoists are given hefty rehabilitation packages while their needs are ignored.
Rashmi Nag, the widow of deputy superintendent of police Sushil Kumar Nag, who died in a landmine blast triggered by the insurgents is threatening to commit suicide if her family is not given a plot of land promised by the state government.
More anguished are family members of police special branch inspector Francis Induwar allegedly killed by Pahan in 2009.
His widow Sunita could barely conceal her dismay watching Pahan’s surrender on television. “How can there be two laws for murder,” she asked, wondering loudly as to how could senior police officials just stand by and watch an alleged murderer being received with open arms.
Relatives of Pramod Kumar Sinha, a murdered DSP, are no less upset watching Pahan’s triumphant return to mainstream. Sinha and two constables were killed in a blast while they were on hot pursuit of Pahan in June, 2008.
“Pahan is a murderer. There should be no clemency to him,” demanded the slain DSP’s sister-in-law Manju Devi.
The government had reportedly promised a job to Sinha’s nephew as part of the compensation package. Nine years later, the family is still waiting for the promise to be kept. Pahan, however, was promptly given a cheque of ₹15 lakh towards his rehabilitation.
Resentment against Maoist surrenders is also beginning to be heard from sections that matter in the state. Ex-chief minister Babulal Marandi whose son died in a Maoist attack and former MLA Binod Singh whose father fell to Maoist bullets have condemned the spate of surrenders. “Everything seems so well planned and stage managed,” Singh said.
The police, however, are standing by their surrender policy. Additional director general of police RK Malik says the surrender of insurgents is a time-tested policy that serves a definitive purpose. “We do publicise the surrenders to send a message to those villagers and also the cadres who are driven by the ideology to return to mainstream,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the Ranchi district bar association (RDBA) on Tuesday took a resolution that no lawyer would defend Pahan.
“We have unanimously resolved not to take up his cases and defend him,” said RBDA general secretary, Sanjay Kumar Vidrohi. He asserted that Pahan “ deserves no clemency.”
RDBA has also decided to approach the High Court seeking a CBI probe into the alleged involvement of police in the so-called surrender scam.