Express News Service

RAIPUR: The strife-torn region of Dantewada district on the auspicious occasion of Rakshabandhan came alive on Sunday with several surrendered Maoists getting rakhis tied on their wrists. Many of them carried a cash reward on their heads. 

Sisters were seen tying the sacred thread on their brother’s wrist praying for their long blissful life as they took a pledge on assurance of protection.

In another insurgncy-hit district of Sukma, many tribal girls and women at Erranore were seen tying the rakhis on a statue created in the memory of local security personnel who killed while fighting the Maoists. Some local tribals have the practise of erecting a memorial of their dear ones who are no more. 

Over a hundred Maoists who had surrendered during the past one year under the campaign ‘Lon Varratu’ (in local tribal Gondi dialect meaning return to your home/village intended for the Maoist cadres) called themselves blessed to celebrate Rakshabandhan. Ever since the Dantewada Police launched the drive in July 2020, as many as 408 cadres have surrendered. 

“Around 80 surrendered rebels celebrated rakhi for the first time. There are around 20 naxals, who couldn’t return to their remotely located villages owing to perceived threat to their lives or their relatives, celebrated the festival in the district headquarters. There are over 650 naxals who also have their rights despite lodged in district jail to get opportunity to be part of celebration with the relatives within the prison premises,” said Abhishek Pallava, Dantewada superintendent of police.

The sisters and relatives were called by the district police to observe the occasion reverent with enthusiasm on being with brothers who are the surrendered Maoists.

“It was a delightful sentiment which we had not experienced before owing to obvious reasons. The feelings of love and safety from brothers were astounding,” said Laxmi Punem after tying the sacred thread on wrist of Suresh Kadti who carried the reward of 5 lakh

“We never realised the significance of Raksha Bandhan while earlier associated with the banned outfit,” revealed Durgesh Sori and Lakhan Gangu, former commanders in the Maoist organisation.