The CRPF men killed in Dantewada were not 'class enemies' | india | Hindustan Times
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The CRPF men killed in Dantewada were not 'class enemies'

Ashok Das writes about Chandramouleeswara Reddy, a landless farmer's son in Orvakallu, Andhra Pradesh, and Peeyush Khandelwal reports about Khalil Khan and Narender Kumar, the sole breadwinners of their families in two villages in Uttar Pradesh who lost their lives in the Dantewada massacre.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2010 23:27 IST

A landless farmer's son: Why he picked the right gun

His poor parents named him after the Lord of Destruction. He completed school, got a job and moved out of his Rayalaseema village hoping to rid his family of penury.

But Chandramouleeswara Reddy's battle against poverty came to an abrupt end when he fell to Maoist bullets at Dantewada on Tuesday.

Reddy (38) wasn't exactly the "class enemy" that Maoists claim to be after. Son of a landless farmer, like many others who join their ranks, he tilled the fields to supplement family income.

He could have picked up a gun. But he chose to conquer the system in a positive way.

"Even on days we didn't have food at home, he did not bunk school. He was determined to study and get a job," said his mother Ratnamma (65), through a stream of tears.

Last month, when he was about to leave for Chhattisgarh, his nine-year-old son implored him not to go.

"Why can't you who return home every evening and help us in homework like other fathers?" he asked. But Reddy told him to be patient. "Wait for one more year and all of us can stay together at one place, he had said," recalled his wife Saraswati (33).

A family member is entitled to a job in the CRPF on compassionate grounds but that will have to wait till the children grow up.

Sole breadwinners: Two villages, united in loss

Fazalgarh is in mourning.

The Uttar Pradesh village, 70 kilometres east of the Capital, was home to Khalil Khan, one of the 75 CRPF men massacred in a Naxalite strike at Dantewada, Chhattisgarh on April 6.

Khan has left behind old parents, wife and two infants.

His father Fakhruddin Khan, 60, is grim as the only earning member of the family is gone. "The men who killed our sons were poor too. I have no strength left to earn a living," he says.

Ten kilometres west of Fazalgarh, in Mehmadpur, another family has lost its breadwinner. Narender Kumar, Khan's fellow soldier from the 62nd Battalion, was also killed in the attack.

Kumar's father Dhan Kumar Singh sits surrounded by four other sons, a pregnant daughter-in-law and grandson. That the Naxalites are cowards is a sentiment shared by many. "Why else would they kill poor soldiers?" asks Singh.

United in grief, the two families disagree on the action that the government should take to tackle Naxalism.

"The problem can be solved peacefully without risking the lives of many more sons of soil," says Khan's elder brother Ikramuddin.

Kumar's family thinks otherwise.

"Khoon ka badla khoon (Shed blood for blood)," says Singh.