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Their god died young, unsung

The 11-yr-old kid abhors polls. It brings back old ghosts and rips open wounds that still fester. Arindam Sarkar finds.

india Updated: Apr 12, 2006 17:56 IST

Eleven-year-old Rajkumar Jana abhors elections. It brings back old ghosts and rips open wounds that still fester.

Even after five years. This Class II student in West Bengal's "killing fields" of Midnapore is an orphan of democracy.

"My father died in a clash with rivals in 2001. He was a farm hand and a political fighter. And the party used him to fight the enemies, who shot him. Our lives crashed. My mother died soon after and I was left to fend for myself. Elections are like nightmares," says the frail dark boy with limpid eyes.

The only home Rajkumar knows is the Kisholaya Kalyan Abas, an orphanage set up after the violent 1998 and 2001 polls for victims of election "violence".

There are at least 100 boys in two concrete buildings — sticking out like sore thumbs in the thatch-and-mud rural landscape of Keshpur's Mahishda village.

The inmates are all boys, whose parents were killed in political clashes between the CPI(M) and the Trinamool Jodhyas (warriors) in 1998 and 2001.

Aged between 5 to 14 years, they hail from villages like Keshpur, Chandrakona, Salboni,Garbeta, Arambagh, Goghat, Khanakul and Vishnupur of Midnapore, Hooghly and Bankura districts — where blood flowed like water and bullets like the wind.

Time has not been a great healer. The only way they keep the demons at bay is by forgetting.

But democracy does not allow them to do so. "I come from Khetua village, the scene of a bloody carnage in the run-up to the last election. My father Shambu Murmu, a jodhya, died fighting. Thanks to this home, I am getting back on rails," says eight-year-old Dhananjoy Murmu of Class II.

Naibul has vivid memories of his father's head chopped off.

According to Mrityunjoy Roy, the home superintendent, such was the trauma that the boys rarely spoke to each other initially "They spent hours brooding. They had to be given psychiatric treatment." But they are gradually learning to trust and live together.