RAIPUR: An unusual scene in one of the worst affected Maoist-affected areas of Chhattisgarh was witnessed at a remote village where 12 Maoists who opposed the ongoing panchayat polls were later seen waiting for their turn to cast their votes to uphold grassroots democracy.
These rebels, persuaded on the hollowness and bleak future of the CPI (Maoist) ideology, had first surrendered and the Dantewada district administration ensured their return to the mainstream by facilitating them to exercise their right to franchise for the first time in the epicenter of left-wing extremism.
A day after these twelve naxal cadres threw pamphlets and nailed banners on trees at hyper-sensitive Surnar and Dhanikarka in Dantewada against the polls had reposed their trust in the democratic system.
A strong message has equally gone across the local tribal community, who saw dramatic turn of events as those engaged in boycotting the polls and warning the villagers later themselves stood in queue to vote for the candidates of their choice.
“During our ground inspection visits along with the district collector at polling booths in remote areas, our security personnel recovered pamphlets thrown by the Maoists in support of their boycott call against the polls.
A senior Naxal leader who had recently surrendered in the region was roped-in to convince the cadres on worthless Maoist ideology which will ruin their future. As their confidence got bolstered on democratic values, they met us, expressing their willingness to return to the mainstream”, Dantewada superintendent of police Abhishek Pallava told the Express.
The surrendered rebels were seen waiting outside the polling centre in the remote Surnar village. “We are delighted to exercise our right to vote for the first time”, they affirmed.
All the twelve surrendered rebels would be entitled for the assistance earmarked under the surrender and rehabilitation policy of the state government.
These Maoist-hotbed regions have seen barely 13 percent voter turnout in the 2015 panchayat elections which has gone up to 74 percent this year — an encouraging sign indeed, the Dantewada SP informed.