M A I N   N E W S

‘Govt’s anti-Naxal policy weak’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 4
For the seven years that Kishore Kumar Verma has been principal of a leading government school in Lohardaga, one of the country’s worst affected Naxal districts, he has not faced problems teaching children. No Maoist cadre has so far threatened to raze his school located in one of Jharkhand’s Fifth Schedule areas (listed under the Constitution as an extremely backward forest and tribal land) but he has once received a death threat by Naxals.

But Verma takes the threat in his stride, going out of his way today to dispel the notion that Naxals routinely destroy school buildings. “They don’t bother dutiful teachers. They mostly raze schools in remote areas when they want to use them as shelters,” says one of the 312 winners of the National Teachers’ Awards which President Pratibha Patil will present in the Capital tomorrow.

The educationist says the Centre’s Naxal policy is weak. “Operation Green Hunt is limited in scope and fruits of development are not reaching the Naxal-controlled areas. Since paramilitary forces are not stationed permanently at one place, Naxals recapture claimed areas after the forces move out. Locals see Naxals as their ultimate saviours and depend on them for security,” Verma says, adding that the government would have to broaden its anti-Naxal strategy and pay special attention to far-flung forest and tribal areas where Naxals have deeply entrenched themselves, courtesy lack of development and justice.

He cites the recent example of a local Lohardaga villager whose daughter was raped by a businessman. “Naxals told the people they would be wasting time going through the process of law. They held a mass court and pronounced death for the culprit. People have come to believe in Naxal justice because they don’t seem to get justice in the normal system,” reasoned the teacher.

He, however, admitted the Maoists were trapping schoolchildren and several kids had migrated from villages to enter Naxal cadres. “I am being awarded precisely because I did not allow my children to drop out,” he claims. But as far as the Centre’s handling of the Naxal issue goes, teachers believe the strategy is far from successful. Baleshwar Ram, another principal from Naxal-affected Champaran in Jharkhand’s Hazari Bagh, today said Operation Green Hunt had failed in Jharkhand.

“Unless development reaches the tribal heartland, Operation Green Hunt will not succeed in India. The fact is that Naxals have won the hearts of people by helping them reclaim land which traders had grabbed. People trust them. The government must replace Naxals as the confidant of the people. That’s the challenge,” Ram, principal of KVSS High School, Champaran, today told The Tribune.

His views however don’t make him a Naxal sympathiser. He has been chosen for the national award for defying four Naxal threats to keep his school going. The enrolment at his school rose from 200 in 1998 to 2000 this year — an effort which is worth emulation across the red corridor of India. 





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