Tekari (Gaya): As the Assembly elections in Bihar enter the terror-terrain of the Naxal-hit Magadh and Rohtas regions, maintenance of law and order will be a decisive factor in the sixth phase of the poll battle on November 20.
Adai and Bara villages of the newly-constituted Tekari Assembly constituency, where internecine caste carnages took place in the past, stand out as testimony to the change that the state`s once declared red zones have witnessed in the past five years. But the remnants still serve as warning signals.
Situated deep in the interiors of Gaya district and also adjacent to Naxal-hit Aurangabad district, Adai village of
Konch block witnessed its last major Maoist attack on March 12, 2004 when four persons were killed during a marriage ceremony in the house of Shilbhadra Singh.
The incident also marked the end of the last brave attempt to solemnise any marriage ceremony in the village, which had not seen a baraat for nearly five years then.
Following the attack, villagers began arranging marriage ceremonies in far away towns to escape Maoist fury.
Satish Kumar, a village resident who witnessed a Naxal attack on April 25, 2004 in Adai, recalled the incident: "It
was 10 am in the morning and we were engaged in crop harvesting in the near-by field when around 200 armed Maoists attacked us from different directions and began firing. I saved my life by crawling out of the field into the nearby Bali village."
He, however, said that the situation has now changed. "There is no fear as such and the permanent police picket has also been removed. Marriage functions are taking place in the village itself since 2006. We don`t need to go outside for them," he added.
Adai earlier fell in the Konch Assembly segment, which ceased to exist after delimitation was carried out last year. It has now become a part of a new Assembly segment, Tekari.
In the new constituency, Bihar`s IT minister Anil Kumar, who earlier represented Konch twice, is locked in a straight fight with RJD`s Bagi Kumar Verma. Congress is fielding Ramnandan Sharma, while Subhash Kumar Kaushal is the BSP candidate. CPI-ML`s Rita Devi largely depends on the cadre votes.
As Lalu Prasad`s RJD and Ram Vilas Paswan`s LJP fight
the election together this time, the consolidation of Dalit
and OBC votes coupled with Muslim support could give the NDA a tough fight in the segment.
The Naxal threat in the constituency is well-established. Both blocks of the constituency -- Tekari and Konch – are Naxal-hit and CPI-ML has in the past led influential peoples` movements against the land-owners in the area. This was before the rise of the then Maoist Communist Centre, now rechristened as CPI (Maoist).
Prominent Naxal attacks in the regions include the Tekari police station blast in 1994 by Sagar Chatterjee-led MCC in broad day light in which twenty policemen were killed and the entire magazine was looted. Another attack took place in Bara village, where the Maoists killed 34 persons in a marauding attack on February 12, 1992.
Ajay Kumar of Bara village in Tekari, whose father Chandrika Singh was one of those butchered on the unfortunate night, says the situation has improved in the village and people now come to Bara even at night.
The village has been electrified and a road has been laid. In addition, a road is being laid from the village to the `Samadhi Sthal` built in memory of those killed in the Bara carnage.
The village has been connected to the main road through
an over 5 km-long PCC road. A middle school has come up in the village and a community centre is being constructed.
But all is not that rosy everywhere.
Satish Kumar, whose wife is a witness in the Bara carnage case, claims he is getting threats to withdraw her from the case. Other witnesses are already backing out due to fear, he says.
Trouble has been brewing in Adai village. On Thursday, suspected Maoists set afire a campaign vehicle in Tekari. Maoists also fired at the vehicle of IT minister Kumar while he was returning from Gaya town ten days ago.
Migration of Dalits in search of a livelihood still continues. Youth population is alarmingly sparse in Khwaspur, Achaki, Kurmama, Simra or Kamal bigha. Karma village, once the "cultural capital of Maoists" is about 10 kilometres from the Dalit hamlet of Khwaspur and though major Naxal incidents are not reported, the areas are still their strongholds.
It also remains to be seen whether Tekari joins the trend of increasing vote percentage witnessed across the state in
this Assembly election.
Indifference towards election has been noticed in these areas in past. In the past twenty years, the highest voting percentage of 48.9 per cent was recorded in Konch in the February, 2005 election.