RANCHI: The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is using two unlikely weapons to wipe off the traces of Maoist influence in Karamdih village of Latehar in Jharkhand — newspapers and loudspeakers.
Located on the foothills of Budha Pahar, Karamdih, having 287 households, used to be a Naxal hotspot until just two months ago and was completely cut off from the outside world.
The village, geographically locked because of its terrain, was used by the Maoists as a transit point and to organise logistics. It remained out of the reach of the administration even as it provided a safe passage to the Maoists.
The security forces, after having pushed the Red rebels on the backfoot in the Budha Pahar region, have ushered in a new light of awareness in the once-isolated village, located on the borders of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
The 112 Battalion of CRPF, under a community policing initiative, installed four loudspeakers at different locations in the village and started reading out daily news from local newspapers to make the assembled villagers aware of the happenings in the world and also of the government schemes launched for them so that they could avail the benefits.
“When the camp was established here in June, we observed that the villagers were completely cut-off from the outside world. The place did not even have basic facilities like power and water supply. Though the village is located only about 125 km from the district headquarters, the residents did not have television or radio sets and were absolutely unaware of what’s going on outside the village,” said CRPF Deputy Commandant Ravi Ranjan. “Hence, we thought of a plan to make people aware of the happenings around them as a goodwill gesture under a programme, ‘Andhere Se Ujale Ki Ore’ (from darkness to light).”
The programme was started on September 4 after a visit by a team of officials lead by Inspector General (CRPF) Sanjay A Latkar. “Mic and amplifier were installed in the camp while loudspeakers were installed at different locations in the village. One of our personnel reads out news daily. The initiative is gaining popularity and people are responding positively,” Ranjan said.
The villagers are happy. “We are learning a lot from this initiative of the CRPF. We were completely cut-off from the outside world, but now we are getting all news and updates on daily basis,” said 35 year old Sunita Devi.
The villagers also believe that the intervention of CRPF personnel has minimised Naxal activities. “Earlier, the Maoists used to come here regularly due to which was a sense of fear among the villagers. Since the CRPF camp was established here, their intervention has completely stopped while the CRPF is providing all basic facilities,” said Jagdev, the village head.
The CRPF has also provided electricity to every household in the village from 6 pm to 11 pm daily through a generator installed in the camp, he added. “Now, our children can study and women can cook at night. Household chores ceased after the sunset earlier, but that’s no longer the case,” said the village head.
The CRPF also organises medical camps from time to time.