How an aggrieved villager became a Naxal
RANCHI, Jharkhand: Ram Pado Lohra has been on both the sides of the spectrum. When he was on the left, he wanted bloodstains on the khaki, and on the right, he was protecting the same khaki from wear and tear. A resident of Pundidiri village in Tamar block of Ranchi district, Ram had joined the rebel forces before surrendering to live a normal life.
This all started when one day while having a conversation with his mother, he discovered that a local landlord had cheated his family and seized their land. He set his mind to exact revenge from Satya Narayan Munda, the landlord. He started working as a tailor on top of his usual farm work to save up and hire a lawyer so that he could take Munda to court. Sujit, the area commander of the local Naxal faction, came to know about Ram’s mission and started giving him the rebel fatigues to get tailored. In return, while he was being paid handsomely, he was unaware that the police recorded his actions as that of a Naxal supporter.
In 2005, a raid was conducted in Pundidiri village and while the security forces were looking for Ram, he ran and hid in the forest. This was the incident that converted Ram from a common man to a rebel. He joined the squad led by Sujit. Ram overlooked his responsibilities as a family man with a wife and three children to start training for a life full of threats.
The realisation that he had committed a mistake by joining the rebel forces dawned upon Ram when his squad was promoted to the second-in-command and Kundan Pahan became the leader of the party. Bloodthirst, desire for endless sex and hunger for money had made Kundan a dreaded leader. He used to torture the villagers and had even begun torturing the members of the party. Ram and other members of the squad were planning to run away. While they were planning to escape, an encounter in the forests of Adki in Khunti district gave them a strong reason to leave the squad. But how?
Return to normalcy
Ram came to know about Operation Nayee Disha (new direction), a surrender policy of Jharkhand Police. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Ranchi Saket Kumar Singh and SP (Rural) Surendra Jha through a telephonic conversation with Ram convinced him. He surrendered on October 29, 2013.
“We know that there are some problems because of which people become a rebel but we need to know that reason and convince them that a life out of the forest is much easier and enjoyable. Operation Nayee Disha is new hope for all the people like Ram to come to the mainstream,” said Saket Kumar Singh.
Surendra Jha said he still remembers the day he got a call from Ram and informed that his desperation to surrender was evident. “We knew that a policy-based operation would bring more difference than a bullet-based operation,” he added.
After Ram’s surrender, he was sent to jail for three years before getting bail and earning there as a tailor. He used to stitch policemen’s uniform. He was allotted a small place in Ranchi police line at Kanke Road. He opens his shop early in the morning and throughout his day he is busy working with the khaki.
When asked about his life, Ram broke into tears. He said he lost almost 12 years of his life, more than eight years as a rebel in the forest. He lamented that he had not only destroyed his life but also the lives of his family. His wife died while he was in the forest, his sons were living as nomads. After his name was registered in the local police station, several raids were carried out at his house.
The constant menace troubled his sons so much that they moved to different parts of the country. His elder son Arjun Pahan used to live in Punjab with his wife and two children while his younger brother went to Haryana. “We were not in contact for a few years. I was working as a daily-wage labourer in Punjab. Once I got the news that my father has surrendered, I came back. Now we are living together in Ranchi. This life is good now, we are working hard to without any fear with the help of police,” Arjun said.
“Life in the forest is pathetic, away from your loved ones there is always the risk of death, especially for those who are in the lower-rungs of hierarchy,” noted Ram Pado while asking the youngsters to stay away from Naxalism.