Journalist opens school for children in Maoist-affected Keonjhar in Orissa

Keonjhar (Orissa), Feb 9 (ANI): With growing menace of the Maoists targeting young children, a local journalist opened a residential school in the Maoist-affected district of Keonjhar in Orissa.

Malay Mohapatra, the journalist, started the Vidya Bhawan school to provide education to tribal children that they are protected from Maoists.

The residential school has 150 students from the Maoist-affected hinterland.

"Maoist cadres have soft-targeted these poverty-stricken families. Here the children are without basic needs and they have been trying to indulge them in, bring them into their cadres and evolve them into their anti-social, in their Naxal (Maoist) activities. So we have been trying to open a school like this that will give them a protected environment, and they can stay away from these other spheres and they can develop their future," said Mohapatra.

The idea of opening a school came to Mohapatra after he saw that tribal children were often kidnapped and recruited in Maoist camps.

"I have been moving around in this district and I have seen the difficulties, the problems of the villages and particularly in the government sector not much has been done, not enough steps have been taken with these kind of children, where they can get some education and they can get proper training with proper environment to grow. I thought of setting up this school where these children can be put together, where care can be taken at the individual level, so that they can build up their future," he said.

The children, too, enjoy coming to school where they forget their fears of being recruited into Maoist camps.

"If I wouldn't have come here the Maoists would have taken me along with them," said Reema, a student.

Keonjhar is one of the tribal-dominated districts in Orissa with 80 percent people living below poverty.

Although rich in mineral resources, due to the Maoist presence, the district has been vastly underdeveloped, with even basic amenities such as health and education not available in the region. (ANI)

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