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Sukma ambush has ringed up the panic bells in this Maoists ravaged eastern Bihar districts. State police headquarters reportedly in its directive asked security forces not to take unnecessary risks as well as not to venture out without any precautionary measures. The story which came out from Sukma incident that villagers surrounding the place of occurrence there, helped the outlaws to carry out the operation against the CRPF.
Same situation also prevails here, the denizens of the most inaccessible topography of the region who are neglected lots, became sandwiched between the security forces and the rebels. As all of them are totally deprived off any basic governmental facilities, they became hostile towards the government and hence extended their unconditional support to the outfits. Today we are presenting another ground zero reality from this region :
No roads : villagers at red zone miss the bus for development
For the residents of Bagdashwa, a remote and sleepy hamlet under Belhar block at Banka nothing is more important than metalled roads.
A frail Gobine Murmu (31), a native of Mallahatari has been suffering from high fever (with the symptoms of Malaria) for the last month, compels to die without any medicine at his village. The reason : since there is no transport system in the village in the absence of proper road connectivity, it becomes a Herculean task for Murmu to reach the nearest PHC, located in Belhar at a distance of almost 25 Km.
Like Mallahatari, more than 300 villages mostly located in the “red guerilla liberated zone” of eastern Bihar’s Banka district do not have a proper roads. Even after 70 years of Independence, the villagers of such remote and highly inaccessible localities have to depend on kuttcha pathways to maintain links with the world outside.
Residents of such villages in the district are facing the worst ever tragedy of their lives. Onset of summer forced the majority of such villagers to migrate other distant villages in search of water as water procurement is a major hurdle in their normal lives.
“We have no opportunity for looking beyond our village, our lives are confined here,” Roopa Soren, a homemaker pointed to the kutccha path at Bathnawaran village under Bounsi block. A villager of the hamlet has to travel more than 25 km on such bumpy roads to reach Bounsi block headquarters.
Out of such 300 villages, nearly 200 are located in Maoist-infested Belhar, Chandan, Kotoria, and Bounsi blocks. “Most of such villages were located in the most inaccessible topography and the approach pathways pass through dense forests or rugged trails,” said Dhrub Thakur, a social activist at Banka. According to him residents in such villages who were compelled to live a subhuman life, shifted their loyalty from the government to the Maoist outfits. “Police could not reach the villages in time during an emergency but on the other hand such situations are ideal for the rebels who virtually developed a red corridor while interlining such parts of Banka with neighbouring Deoghar and Godda of Jharkhand as well as Jamui’s rough terrain ,” he added further.
Intelligence sources also confirmed the blockage of rural prosperity in the district due to lack of proper road connectivity. The source also has described it as a major hurdle before the police to counter the outfits and said such situations created through wilful negligence help the rebels to spread their tentacles into the rural areas.
While echoing the sources, a top ranking CRPF official held the pathetic roads responsible for the recent incident in which the joint team of Banka police and CRPF failed to nab any rebels who assembled in large numbers at Bagdhaswa forest. “We were late in reaching the spot mainly due to the non availability of motorable roads in the areas,” the officer admitted on condition of anonymity.
Another CRPF official on condition of anonymity recalled such an early incident : “It was October 2011 and we had information about the arrival of Zonal Commander Birbal Da at his native village, Matiyakur under Belhar block to attend the Sradh ceremony of his late father. Police and CRPF team jointly proceeded to Matiyakur village but Birbal Da had left the village much before we reached there. We were late because we had to walk on foot on kuttcha pathways over more than eight km to reach Matiyakur,” he recalled.
Earlier at many occasions, detailed reports of the poor infrastructure of the rural part of the district were sent to the state government by the administration. The reports were also sent to the central government requesting a special package, but nothing has happened so far. Some members of parliament from Banka like Putul Kumari had raised the matter on the floor of Parliament. She even requested the prime minister and the union home minister by letter, urging for the special package for Banka, in the form of Naxal Special Areas Development Project.
Administrative sources from the district however claimed that efforts were on for village road networking and better implementation of ongoing government’s welfare schemes in rural areas.
A top ranking cop in eastern Bihar, also admitted to the plight and misery of the residents of such villages. The officer however was optimistic about the changing of the scenario soon.
“Banka was included under security related expenditure (SRE) scheme of the union government and community policing at such villages are our top most priority,” he said.
(to be concluded)