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Bold leady Jaya Devi, better known as “Green Lady” of Munger, a Maoists ravaged eastern Bihar district in Bihar today added another feather in her cape- she was honored in the hands of President of India, Pranav Mukherjee today by the prestigious Lakshmipat Singhania Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow’s ‘National Leadership Awadr-2016-17’.
She achieved the award in recognition of her outstanding leadership development and institution building and achievement in the field of ‘community services and social welfare’. President of India, Pranav Mukherjee along with all those present at the award ceremony at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi today became apparently thrilled with brief introduction in the background about Jaya and depicted her struggle against the organized red ultras in her native place and her and dedication for the community services among the illiterate and most poor villagers in that sleepy region in Munger.
Every time climax was high in Jaya’s life as she grown up witnessing poverty, hunger and brutality on women and children. Due to the militant’s threat, she was being forced to stop her education while she was in the sixth standard resulting her early marriage at the age of 12. “My parents preferred my marriage so earlier and also shifting my pretty looking sister to a distant place in fear of the situation in our village where feudalism was on its hick and under privileged people like us were not allowed to breath in open air,” she recalled.
Her first child was born when she was only 16. Instead of having sweet memories of childhood, Jaya Devi had only bitter memories from her childhood. But, all such bitter experiences made her bold and determined her to do something for the helpless mass.
“I started concentrating on how to educate all the children, especially girls, stop child marriage, and more than anything, I want to provide safety to the villagers. We have been living in threat our entire lives due to the Maoists. We need the support of people and the government to fight this,” she said. She narrated how one influential community in the region used to create terror among other backward communities. “In nineties the noted goons of that very community shifted their royalty towards the red wing extremism, making the situation more compounded,” she said.
Karaili massacre, killing of six villagers (the Maoists alleged them as special police officers-SPOs) in July 2011, was a turning point in her life. Though she earlier before the incident, witnessed many killing of villagers in the hands of the rebels but Karaili massacre was indeed engineered by the red ultras just to teach her a lesson, as claimed by Kishor Jaiswal, a noted water activist and mentor of Jaya.
According to Jaiswal, Jaya started self-help groups in the Karaili village to serve the marginalized community, especially women to become financially independent and avoid money lenders. She then turned her concern towards the environment. Jaya Devi started addressing the issues such as water conservation and tree planting.
“Jaya learned various methods of rain water harvesting from us and started applying it with the villagers. With the help of villagers she managed to constructed a tank like structure atop hills (the village is located at the foothills) to catch the rain water and managed to drain it out to the cultivated fields at the foothills. Soon, her efforts brought good results in the well irrigated fields,” Jaiswal recalled.
According to him after the irrigation facilities, villagers for the first time started witnessing greenery in their barren lands which boosted up their confidence level high as well as made them united. “ Villagers who gradually becoming strong and started resisting the rebels, created fear in the Maoists camps as the rebels apprehended that they might not influence the villagers with the fear and pressure tactics. So in retaliation the rebels attacked Karaili and killed 6 villagers in the name of SPOs to teach a lesson to Jaya ,” he pointed out.
“But time has changed many things, today, women in the region have started working with an aim to improving their status in the society and they need to know that by demanding equal status they are just practicing their right,” she claimed.
However, Jaya’s life is still under the target of Maoists as she managed to protect the villagers of Munger from the outlaws. She managed to introduce a green revolution with tree plantations, water harvesting and community participation in the Munger district. Jaya earlier received many awards and recognition for her enormous contribution.
“ It’s not possible for me to narrate my inner feelings after receiving today’s award but it once encouraged me to complete my mission. I will try to concentrate more on my mission,” she told news5 pm from New Delhi.