Jharkhand's Former Maoist Commander On Freedom, Fear and Why He Would Vote for the BJP
For Deepak Sahu, the government move on Jammu and Kashmir and the construction of Ram temple are some of the achievements that makes BJP the party of his choice.
Tilakmen Sahu alias Deepak Sahu with his family in Simdega, Jharkhand. (News18)
Simdega, Jharkhand: Three years ago, Tilakmen Sahu alias Deepak Sahu, finally surrendered before the police following the launch of 'Operation Nai Disha'. He was then Jharkhand’s CPI Maoists Sub-Zonal Commander. Sahu was on the front page of all newspapers. After all, he was facing 34 cases of murder, extortion, and possession of arms and ammunition mainly in Simdega and Gumla.
At a gathering with the press and cameras, Sahu was offered a cheque of Rs five lakh. But Sahu says, "That was all. None of the other promises were kept."
The promise was that he will be provided a piece of land to take his livelihood ahead after his return home, apart from being provided with a skill development programme of his interest and caliber with Rs 5,000 as a monthly stipend during his training days. His children's education expense will also be provided by the Government till their Graduation, which could go to the upper limit of Rs 25,000, yearly. "I got nothing, but most importantly I didn't get any security," Sahu said.
"I have to constantly live in fear," he said. Sahu has applied for a gun license under Rifle Suraksha but hasn't got it so far.
For 15 years, Sahu had been involved in as many as seven encounters with the police. One of his major operations was the attack on Bansjor Police Station in Simdega on the eve of 2008 New Year, in which one policeman was martyred and a couple of others were injured.
Sahu doesn't know why he chose to be a Maoist even years later, but he knows who he would vote for. "There's no doubt that I would vote for the BJP," he said. "They are working for the country," he added. Sahu then lists out what he feels are the achievements of his choice of the party-- "They have done good work in Kashmir, they are giving us Ram Mandir." Immediately after, he remembers he doesn't have a voter's identity card. "I will get it next year. I will then vote for the BJP," he said. However, Sahu said, that he has convinced his entire family to vote for the current ruling government in Jharkhand.
"There's a need for a strong party in our state, and BJP is that party," he said, adding that "If they say they will do something, they do it."
Sahu had joined the Vikas Khariya gang when he was about 14 years old-- in 2002. He was then promoted as area commander of Palkot Raidih in 2004. "Zamindars were looting the poor. The party was raising voice against the oppressors. They were the only ones doing that," he said.
The former Naxal leader didn't look back till he became sub-zonal commander of Simdega zone in 2007, which was his last designation. However, he claimed to have been promoted as Zonal Commander of Gumla and Simdega.
"After the Shanti Sena unit was formed it became very difficult to even go back home anymore," he said, recollecting the days of playing hide-and-seek with the cops. His home was in Umra Natitoli in Palkot Police Station of Gumla. "If Shanti Sena-- an outfit comprising of former naxals supported by the government-- spotted us, they would just shoot us. There would be no cases filed," he said.
"We kept killing each other," Sahu said. "The encounters just would not stop, the fights were never-ending."
In 2009, Sahu was first arrested. "It was during the elections. There were a lot of checks in place" he said. After three years in jail, when he was released, the police started chasing him again. But this time, he escaped. He continued to work with the banned left-wing extremist organisation till 2016.
Six months after becoming the father of a baby boy, Sahu said he started rethinking his decision. Meanwhile, finding an opportunity here, the then Simdega SP Rajiv Ranjan kept visiting Sahu's family members and bringing toys to his baby. "I was also getting tired of the jungle," he said. This is when he finally decided to go home. Sahu now has two boys-- one is 4, the other is seven months old.
He opened a hotel near the Simdega highway with two of his friends. But he doesn't go there too often because of the fear of the 'party people'. "The land that the government wants to give us is in the fringes of the town. But I can't run anything there because of the party people," he said.
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