BHOPAL: The growing terror of Mahendra Dhoni has compelled women in four dozen villages in Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh to take up guns for self-protection. No, we’re not talking about batting legend Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but a 32-year-old Mahendra Pasi alias Dhoni, an inter-state dacoit with a reward of Rs 45,000 for his arrest.
A string of abductions for ransom by Dhoni, who once sported long hair like former Team India captain M S Dhoni, has forced villagers, including women, to take up arms for self-defence in villages in Rewa district, 500 km from state capital Bhopal.
Until a few years ago, Mahendra Pasi alias Dhoni, from Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh, worked as a cook for two dacoit gangs, a source in UP police in Allahabad said. From a cook, Dhoni gradually emerged as a gang leader, and he has been operating a gang of eight to ten trusted aides for the last two to three years. Recently, Dhoni’s gang kidnapped two cousins, both farmers, from Hardoni village in Rewa. The cousins were held captive in jungles in UP and were reportedly released only after a ransom of Rs 5 lakh was paid.
Another inter-state dacoit, Rajauwa Yadav, who too carries a Rs 45,000 bounty for his arrest, is also giving sleepless nights to residents of around 50 villages in the dense forests of Panna valley in Rewa district.
The gang led by Yadav was recently involved in two kidnappings in Rewa, of a retired deputy forest ranger, and of a doctor, besides a couple of killings in Chitrakoot district of UP.
“If the dacoits are unable to find targets that can fetch them a big ransom, they loot the livestock of the farmers,” said Rupa Pandey, a middle-aged resident of Devkhar village. In the four dozen villages of Rewa district that have been reporting movements of the dacoits, men and women carry arms for protection all the time.
“When the male members of the family are out, we carry guns for the protection of our families. Almost a decade and half ago, during the era of dreaded dacoits Dadua and Thokia, men and women in the villages were trained in armed combat and self-defence, before being licensed to carry guns. Now, we’re using the same guns to guard our family and property from the new dacoit gangs,” said 50-year-old Satyawati of Hardoli village.
Anshuman Yadav, Inspector General of Police, Rewa Range, said: “We’ve deployed additional companies of the Special Armed Force of MP Police in the forests in Rewa and Satna districts. New security posts have been created, and the jawans are exercising area dominance in the jungles.”
Two dacoit gangs terrorise MP villagers
Residents of around 50 villages in the dense forests of Panna valley in Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh live in terror of two dacoit gangs, led by Mahendra Dhoni and Rajauwa Yadav
Both gang leaders carry rewards of Rs 45,000 for their arrest
The two gangs primarily comprise dacoits from UP, but of late have been operating in Rewa and Satna districts of MP
Villagers say the dacoits don’t target wealthy persons but farmers and even retired government employees