Eight years after she surrendered, ex-Maoist rebel still awaits freedom

  • Probal Sanatani, Hindustan Times, Ghatsila
  • Updated: Apr 18, 2015 19:55 IST

When Kapra Mardi rejoined the “mainstream” after leaving a Maoist outfit eight years ago, her homecoming was celebrated by the administration as a success story in wooing back a rebel.

She was felicitated at an official function attended by civil and police officials who garlanded Mardi, spoke about the futility of the armed insurgency and promised to rehabilitate her with all the benefits under the government’s surrender policy. And then they promptly forgot her.

Since then, Mardi – now 25 – is languishing at the Ghatsila jail, awaiting a life as a free citizen of the country.

Mardi’s tale is the story of a flawed government policy in a state which has faced the brunt of Maoist insurgency for decades and also one of the reasons why not many rebels have come forward to avail the benefits.

Police had slapped several cases against her out of which she was acquitted in all but two.

“I would approach the government to grant pardon and acquit her in the two pending cases and free her from jail,” said Sailendra Burnwal, superintendent of police (operations) who met Mardi in jail earlier this week.

Sources said that Burnwal was the sub-divisional police officer in Ghatsila – around 160 km from capital Ranchi – when Mardi surrendered on February 4, 2007.

Burnwal remembered the “young girl” after he was recently given the task of overseeing anti-Maoist operations, the sources said adding that he then decided to take up her case.

Daughter of a farmer from Damudih village near here, Mardi joined the CPI (Maoists) at a very young age following the footsteps of her elder brother Soban Mardi, who is a now a commander of the outfit.

Mardi’s lawyer Dipti Singh said Mardi was married off at an early age but from the very first day suffered harassment at the hands of her husband.

“To take revenge, I joined the Maoist group but after a while I realised my mistake and surrendered,” Singh quoted Mardi saying.

Singh said that besides surrender benefits, “the government should consider compensation to Mardi for the delay in releasing her.”

The Jharkhand government offers a one-time payment of Rs 2.5 lakh to any Maoist cadre who joins the mainstream. Besides, they are also given training in skill development and a monthly stipend of Rs 5000. The amount can go up to as high as Rs 22 lakh each for top Maoist leaders.

However, since 2010 only 79 rebels have surrendered in the state.

Many rebels have also joined politics with former ‘zonal commander’ Kameshwar Baitha winning the Palamu Lok Sabha seat from behind bars.

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