Karnataka ex-Naxals threaten to return to cause – The New Indian Express
Express news service
PAVAGADA: Pavagada taluk, which had already made the headlines of Naxal’s activities, has been in the news again for the past five years to house one of the largest solar parks in the world covering an area of 53 km².
But nothing changed for the former Naxalites in the region, to whom politicians, police officers and the government had promised that their living conditions would be improved, employment opportunities would be created, financial assistance would be extended and all efforts would be made to ensure a ‘good life. But just as these ex-Naxalites were back in the mainstream, the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd (KPTCL) decided to acquire land for the massive Pavagada solar park.
“We were promised work, including cleaning the solar panels, mowing the lawn and others, when the park was set up. But nothing came our way. We belong to the community of listed castes, and on top of that, we have been labeled Naxalites, ”lamented Muthyalappa alias Venkatesh from the village of Vallur. He had been part of the Naxal movement since 1998. He was arrested in 2005 and served six and a half years in various prisons across the state.
Nagaraj, aka Manohara – whose brother Peddanna was the first in the family to join the Naxal movement – decided not to part with his father’s two acres of land, while many others dreamed of working at the solar park. as employees.
Nagaraj sits in his small shop in the tiny hamlet of Venkatamannahalli, which made headlines in 2005 when six police officers and a civilian were killed, while five others were injured when around 300 naxalites, including 50 women, were killed. attacked the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) with hand grenades, bombs and AK-47 assault rifles. Nagaraj was the main accused in the case. “I was charged No. 1 in the bombing case,” Nagaraj said.
Jobs promised, a better life never came, say elders Naxals
“I was about 20 when I was arrested, and awards had been announced in my name. While I spent almost eight years in prison, I completed my second year of journalism. After being released in 2012, I thought I would do justice to my ideologies that had been imprinted on me since I was a teenager. We were promised a lot, including a decent life with respect, ”Nagaraj explains, explaining the current situation in villages formerly subject to Naxal, including his own.
With the government breaking its promises, Nagaraj now says, “If my presence is needed in the (Naxal) movement, I am ready to go even now. Several of them who feel betrayed by the government think they could revert to naxalism or join the rebel “group” if such a situation arises.
“Although we have suffered from being in the movement, we are not ready to give up our ideologies. Many of us try to fight the system by being in the system. We became members of panchayats and formed unions. But nothing is going well. Our politicians and the government have not changed. We have been taught to respect and respect. But at the same time, we also know when to rebel, and we are ready to do so if the situation calls for it. We will teach our children the same, ”Nagaraj says.
Some of them are still struggling with the Naxal tag attached to them. For example, Shriram, who is almost 40, often knocks on owners’ doors asking them for a job. But on several occasions, he says, he has been shown the door as he continues to be considered a naxalite.
He says he even approached the solar panel company to give it a security or cleaning job, but the “label” prevented him, although he was cleared of the 13 cases filed against him. “It’s only 4 km from my house to the nearest solar panel site. I am ready to work as a security guard or cleaner. But I’m still struggling, ”said Shriram, a resident of BK Halli.
He was a teenager when he joined the Naxal movement after his father lost land to an owner who gave him a loan. A few other people suffered the same fate. “It made me angry and helpless, and I joined the Naxal movement,” he says. He was part of Muthyalappa’s team between 1994 and 2004. In the meantime, he spent some time in prison.
When HM Krishna was Chief Minister in 2004, many members of his fellowship were called in and given ration cards. “They declared us ‘ex-Naxalites’ and assured us of loans, so that we could live off Naxal activities. But it’s been over 17 years. Many governments have come and gone. But nothing was done ! he says.
While there are hundreds of landless people in the five villages surrounding the solar park waiting for the government to provide them with jobs, ex-Naxalite families are also waiting not only for basic amenities and jobs at the park. solar, which they claim to be the only way to earn a living, but also seek help from banks to grant them loans to set up businesses, develop their land and do business.
“Each new minister visits our villages. Our villages have a history, you see. From BJP to Congress to JDS, all party ministers have come here to make headlines. It has now been over 15 years since the attack and we only have requests to show to the media which sometimes do not even make the headlines. We look forward to good roads to our villages, pucca houses to live in and jobs to work and earn, ”Nagaraj says.
Senior retired police officer, who played a major role in arresting some of these Naxalites, says exploitative and unfair practices have driven many of these young men and women to violence, and despair extreme led them to believe that armed struggle alone can right the wrongs committed against them.
“Feudal systems and caste hierarchies, which play out in the villages of Pavagada, are the reason why so many young people joined the Naxal movement in the 1990s. After the brutal attack of 2005, the government spoke big and promised development, but it broke its promises. The same injustice that drove them to join the Naxals still persists, and if the government does not want this to happen again, it should ensure that residents of the taluk are provided with all basic amenities. We must be aware that many of them still believe in Naxal’s ideologies and this can turn into rage, ”he warns.
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