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Maoists hack to death villager in Chattisgarh

Lalit Shastri

Sukma (Chattisgarh): Maoists today ( 27 May 2018) hacked to death a 45-year-old villager in his field near Punpalli village under Dornapal police station in Sukma district.

According to available information, a group of Maoists, also called the Naxalites, reached the victim, Vanjami Sukda, when he was at his farm along a hill, about 3 kms from Punpalli, and slit his throat killing him on the spot. The Maoists killed Sukda accusing him of acting as a police informer.

In the backdrop of what happened today in a Sukma village are some related developments in the past. For example, former Madhya Pradesh chief secretary Nirmala Buch, was appointed chairperson of a high-powered Standing Committee set up by the Chhattisgarh government to review all cases that were in the prosecution or investigation stage, including those of Maoists, following the release of the Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon a few years ago.

Ms. Buch had accepted the equest to become a mediator on behalf of the Chhattisgarh government, along with another former bureaucrat S.K. Mishra, and had accepted the position since, in her own words, she had first-hand knowledge of the Maoist affected area, which was part of Madhya Pradesh till the state’s bifurcation and creation of Chhattisgarh.

The Committee headed by Ms. Buch was set up in 2012 after there was a dialogue with the help of the two mediators Dr. B.D.Sharma and Prof. Hargopal, who were nominated by the Maoists. This paved the way for an agreement leading to the Sukma collector’s release.

The Chhattisgarh Government followed up the Collector’s release by appointing the high-powered standing committee on May 3, 2012. The first meeting of this committee was held the same night and another the next day amply showing how committed the Chattisgarh Government was when it came to the pact with the negotiators nominated by the Maoists.

The issue of a large number of tribals and others in the judicial custody in various jails of Chhattisgarh was a major concern of the mediators nominated by the Maoists.

The High-powered standing committee set up by the Chhattisgarh government regularly reviewed all cases of persons in respect of whom investigation of prosecution was pending, including the Maoist related cases.

Notwithstanding the mandatory provision to subject the review process to judicial review, one cannot ignore the fact that the review process that got institutionalized by the Chhattisgarh government in the post-Sukma collector’s abduction and release phase, undermined the success that had been achieved in controlling the network of supporters of the hardcore Maoists in the villages. This network is usually built by instilling fear or through coercion. The Maoists use the local supporters for digging trenches to blast police convoys or as couriers and messengers . The Police also makes great efforts to catch the Maoists and their supporters.

After the Sukma Collector’s release, it was being advocated that the cases of those facing minor charges should be reviewed on priority as no one comes to bail them out. Whereas on the contrary, what should not be forgotten is that their prosecution drags on in maoist related cases as the villagers are mostly afraid of appearing as a witness against them in court.

Today’s hacking of a villager is a grim reminder that things are sliding back to where they were before the kidnapping and release of the Sukma Collector 6 years ago.

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