Saryu,a village situated in Latehar district in Jharkhand,is no longer a ‘liberated red zone.’
With rebels no longer calling the shots there,industries around it are on the roll,thanks to the drive against the Maoists and the launch of a special development programme by the government there.
Ever since Jharkhand was constituted in 2000, Saryu located in a hilly and forested area dotted by a dozen up coming mega projects of the Abhijeet,Essar ,Corporate Ispat and Electro Steel,was overtaken by Maoists,as one of their headquarters in Jharkhand’s Palamau division.
Maoist attacks were a routine in Latehar .Often it witnessed bloodshed climaxing in the attack in December last year on the convoy of independent MP and former Jharkhand speaker Inder Singh Namdhari.Though Namdhari escaped unhurt,10 policemen were killed in one of the most daring attacks by the rebels.
This prompted the security forces to start an all-out offensive against the Maoists,destroying their bunkers at Saryu.After the Maoists were driven out, the security forces set up their own camps at Saryu.
Soon,Union Minister Jairam Ramesh backed by Chief Minister Arjun Munda intervened and the Saryu Special Development Programme (SSDP) covering 12 Panchayats was launched.In fact,SSDP,like Saranda Development plan being implemented in West Singhbhum district falling in South Chotanagpur division,is part of the four-pronged strategy to deal with the Maoists – the other three being political mobilisation in rural areas, social justice to tribals and security measures.
Latehar Deputy Commissioner Aradhana Patnaik said: “As per the SSDP, we plan to work in areas of education, health, MG-NREGA, housing under Indira Awas, skill development, road net work, irrigation, sanitation, drinking water and a stadium.”
She said efforts would be made to ensure participation of villagers in the development process.Her announcement to involve villagers in the development of the village delighted Shilpa Kumari who had shifted from Saryu village in 1996 to pursue studies.
Now an elected member of the Latehar Zilla Parishad, Shilpa Kumari is extremely happy at the prospect of her village developing.Recalling the horrors she faced during the Maoist sojourn, an elderly villager, who prefers not to be quoted, said, “For years we have been under constant threat from both the Maoists and the police. The Maoists used to demand food from the villagers.”