Surrendered women Naxals participate in Independence Day parade at Chhattisgarh's Maoist-affected Dantewada

Countering the Independence Day boycott call sounded by Maoists in Chhattisgarh, surrendered women Naxals — now a part of the commando force of the district police — participated in the Independence Day parade at Dantewada on Thursday.

In a first-of-its-kind initiative in a Naxal-affected district in the country, a group of 12 surrendered women commandos who were part of the dreaded Maoist cadre in Bastar, led the police parade. These women had carried bounties of upto Rs eight lakh on their heads prior to their surrender.

Till some time ago, Sukmatti Urse, Korram Sundari, Sushila Markam and many others who were a part of various area committees of the banned CPI (Maoist) in Bastar and carried rewards worth Rs three to eight lakh, never imagined that one day, they would be a part of the government’s Independence Day celebration.

In fact, Maoists oppose national festivals like Republic Day and Independence Day, and hoist black flags as a mark of protest against the Indian State.

 Surrendered women Naxals participate in Independence Day parade at Chhattisgarhs Maoist-affected Dantewada

Independence Day parade at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh on Thursday by women commandos of Danteshwari Fighters platoon, which includes surrendered women Naxals. Image procured by Debobrat Ghose

"This is the first time that we included a platoon of newly-raised ‘Danteshwari Fighters' (women commandos) in our Independence Day parade. The platoon included 12 surrendered women Naxals. A few of them have recently surrendered and joined the police force. Today, they were a part of the parade and hoisted a National Flag for the first time, unlike in the past when they had hoisted black flags to mark their protest on this day. This platoon led the parade today," Abhishek Pallav, superintendent of police, Dantewada district told Firstpost.

In a huge boost to gender equality and empowerment, the parade was commanded by a woman deputy superintendent of police and five platoons comprising women including one platoon with surrendered Maoists led the parade from front.

"In March, 10 women Naxals were integrated in the Danteshwari Fighters platoon of 30 commandos, besides 10 women each from the Maoist-affected Salwa Judum victims and tribal community. Our target is to increase the strength of the platoon to 60 and include 20 surrendered Naxals. As commandos, these surrendered women ultras have acquired self-esteem, as they are on par with men. This is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country," added Pallav.

Maoists called for an Independence Day boycott near a crematorium at Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh. Image procured by Debobrat Ghose

Maoists called for an Independence Day boycott near a crematorium at Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh. Image procured by Debobrat Ghose

Ahead of this Independence Day, Maoists in Chhattisgarh put up banners calling for a boycott. One such banner was put at a crematorium in Rajnandgaon, which has gradually been acquiring the status of a Naxal-sensitive district — a new destination for the Left ultras.

Recently in a similar incident, the dreaded Darbha division committee of the CPI (Maoist) in Bastar issued a two-page statement asking the tribals to observe World Tribal Day (Vishwa Adivasi Divas) on 9 August as 'Sangharsh Divas' — a "day of struggle against the State to protect the rights, identity and existence of tribals which are under threat" and boycott the state celebrations.

"Every year, the Maoists as an anti-establishment move, give a call to boycott Republic Day and Independence Day. Ahead of these days, they even cause disturbances either by triggering blasts or damaging public property like buses or schools, to claim their dominance," a source in the Anti-Naxal operations unit of Chhattisgarh police remarked.

Updated Date: Aug 16, 2019 07:34:15 IST