Latehar, Nov 13: Jharkhand's Matlong village, which was once a Naxal hotbed, is now prospering with some hand holding by paramilitary CRPF. Not long ago, the village, located about 120 km from state capital Ranchi, had no roads and the locals, living under the fear of Naxals, could not access schools, hospitals and police stations.
Latehar district is one of the areas most affected by the Naxal menace in the country. "People in the district used to stay indoors after 5 PM as Naxals' unabated movement had created a reign of terror," Jayant Paul, DIG CRPF, Jharkhand said. Now, people move freely in the district and the roads see regular traffic, benefiting locals and creating job opportunities, he said. "Naxals used to hold kangaroo courts in the area prior to CRPF arrival. They would issue draconian orders to villagers and punish the violators. People were executed the same day they held courts," Ramesh Yadav, a Matlong resident, said.
The Naxals had established a training camp in the heart of Matlong village where cadres used to undergo intensive grounding which included making IEDs. Though the CRPF decimated the Naxals' training camp in 2012, it took a lot of effort to win the confidence of the local people. "As the time progressed, the CRPF undertook several welfare programmes and managed to win their trust," Paul said. Naxals didn't allow civil administration to undertake any developmental programme in the area like building roads, schools, providing electricity and setting up mobile phone towers, so the CRPF took the formidable task in its hands and these facilities are now available to locals.
To thwart Naxals-sponsored hurdles, the paramilitary personnel used to provide cover to workers after which the administration succeeded in building roads. Now, the entire Latehar district is well connected with several new roads being built including a 35-km long stretch connecting Matlong to Haranj village through the Naxal-infested area.
Now, villagers have access to government's welfare projects as roads have paved the way for civil administration officials to visit remote areas. Ganga Prasad Yadav, village head of Matlong, said, "After the CRPF set up its camp in Matlong, the area has witnessed several developmental programmes. Now we have access to roads, schools, hospitals and police stations".
"Building roads is one of the major achievements without which nothing good could have happened here," Govind Paswan, a local said. Some locals, however, criticised the local administration for their failure to provide a good hospital as the single medical facility in the area is not yet fully functional.