Security forces engaged in anti- Maoist operations in Jharkhand are creating awareness among villagers against witch-hunting and human trafficking, police said.
According to National Crime Records Bureau data, Jharkhand tops in witch-hunt murders - 220 between 2008 and 2013. The Jharkhand CBI office puts the number of murders from 2001 to 2013 at 414.
The latest CID data say 1,281 children have gone missing from Jharkhand since 2000. Civil society organisations claim that at l east 30,000 children, mostly tribes, are trafficked from the state every year.
Police said forces, after securing an area from Maoists, interact with villagers to spread awareness against social evils.
“We are not conducting the ( awareness) drive where the (Maoist) threat exists. We have to constantly look over our shoulders. Police meet villagers and talk to them on social issues where they have established their control,” ADG and police spokesman SN Pradhan said on Sunday.
Forces go f or anti- Maoist offensives in remote villages with food and medicines. While returning to base camps, they distribute remaining medicines and other stuff among villagers and educate them on social evils. They show documentaries and put up posters during the awareness drive.
Forces also explain villagers about benefits of welfare schemes of the government, urging them not to join the ranks of the Maoists.
Additional superintendent of police (operation) Pawan Kumar said forces have recently held a street play against witch-hunting at Basia and Bhano villages in Gumla district.
“The officer-in-charge of the local police station also played a role in it,” he said. The play tried to convince villagers that belief in witchcraft is superstitious and has no scientific basis.
Studies show that vested interests use blind belief in witchcraft to grab property and thwart challenges to their control over local power structure.
“The police drive on the social front is earning them a lot of support from people,” Kumar said. Forces also try to win over villagers by taking doctors to remote areas, he said.