BAJURA - Impoverished farmer Dhan Singh had joined the 'Food for Work' program to feed his family. He worked several months and, on completion of his assignment, went down to Sanfe. On the way home, Maoists looted the food he was carrying for his wife and children. "What am I going to do now?" Dhan weeps out of frustration. "My family has not eaten for days." More than 95 poor labourers like Dhan lost 67 quintals of rice after the Maoists looted them as they carried their loads back home. "My family is waiting desperately for me to bring food home," says Khale Chadra, wiping away his tears, "I don't know how to face them. I'd rather hang myself."
Survival is difficult here at the best of times, but with the insurgency food supplies from the Food Supply Corporation are being looted by Maoists. The government allocates about 60,000-65,000 quintals for this district. Besides looting, regular strikes and road blockades also prevent the food from reaching food-deficit villagers. Large stocks of food grains are stuck in the godowns while the villagers in remote areas are left to starve. Last year, the Maoists raided the godown and looted more than 6,000 quintals of rice. Due to the Maoist conflict, agricultural production has dropped by almost 30 percent. Bajura needs at least 170,000 tons of rice annually for its 70,000 population.