Fair At Naxal Hot-bed Gets A Thumbs Up

Post independence, a first of its kind government event conducted at Pirtand, a safe zone for CPI-Maoist

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Giridih: Sixty-year-old Mahavir Mahto, a resident of Ambagarha, is happily returning home from the Poor Welfare Fair cum Night Stay. Not only has Mahto got his medical check up done at the fair but has also accepted the free medicines given to him.

It’s not just Mahto who reaped the dividends from the first of its kind community event organised by the government in these many year, there were thousands. Take the example of 22-year-old Devki Kumari of Baradih, a major in chemistry. She has not only filled the government employment form. She has been assured to be bagging a government job at the right time.

“It’s a lifetime experience for me. For the first time that such an event has been organised by the administration here,” recalls Mahto.

Giridih was carved out of Hazaribagh in 1972. However, even before getting a separate status, Pirtand was a backward area and hence it became a stronghold of naxals. Its political vacuum coupled with absence of government activity, a lot of naxal activities used to take place here. So, this fair was the first major intervention at Harladih, Pirtand, targeting villagers of 21 villages. The villager also embraced this opportunity with open heart.

 

The large number of people at the Poor Welfare Fair cum Night Stay

The humongous turnout at the fair, made the organisers go tizzy. Stalls related to health, employment, pension and LED bulb distribution witnessed the maximum footfall. Around 4501 applications were submitted to stalls set up by various admistrative departments, of which 3881 applications have been addressed on the spot.

However, keeping into account the huge turnout and the chaos that followed it, not every visitor was pleased with the fair’s arrangement. “I have been moving from one stall to another, ever since I have reached the fair. The help desk has also not been helpful. I had approached them seeking their help to locate the stall, from where I could get an employment form? But despite running to many stall, I am yet to get one. No one is providing correct information,” complained Sapna Murmu, who had come from Palma to attend the fair. Murmu has completed Post Graduation (PG) in Hindi from PK Roy college, Dhanbad and looking for job. Her sister-in-law has also done her PG in political Science. However, despite being tribals from an extremely backward area, have not been able to get a job so far.

“The fair should not become a place for visiting purpose. There should be facilities to resolve issues on the spot,” rued Murmu.

Pirtand, being the hub of naxal activities in Giridih, was a place where no officials preferred getting posted or staying there. So, when this fair was being planned, it faced a lot of apprehensions. And because of security concerns, officials chose to keep the event site adjacent to Harladih police picket.

“We had not expected that this many people would turn up. But, we will try to entertain each person. We have instructed official in every stall to cater to each visitor, they need to address maximum people,” claimed Deputy Commissioner Uma Shankar Singh.
The list of Maoist leaders and the reward for informers displayed at the fair

Significantly, there was a stall set up by Giridih police, which had put up a banner listing a dozen of most wanted CPI-Maoist leaders. In other words, the police was using the opportunity to seek help from the villagers to hunt down the naxal leaders, they even were offering huge cash prize to the informers. One Turuk Manjhi has Rs one crore reward on him, was also listed there.

Keeping public safety into account, a huge number of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had been deployed in and around Pirtand. Senior commanders, with experience of having worked in naxal area, but who were now posted in Jammu & Kashmir were also present on duty at this fair to assist local police officials to safely conduct the event.

“We will not reveal the exact number, how much force has been deployed, but they are sufficient in number,” said CRPF commandant Nisheet Kumar.

While superintendent of police Akhilesh Variar said that, adequate security arrangements have made around the fair area.

Member of Parliament from Giridih Ravindra Pandey also reached the fair, late in the evening and will be staying overnight along with the administration officials.

There will be late night cultural activities also at the site.

Image courtesy of Staff Reporter

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