Jumla - Last November the people of Khalanga went through a great tragedy when the Maoists killed my predecessor, two police officers and dozens of army personnel. I had just been promoted to the post of under secretary at the ministry. My superior persuaded me to fill the post of Jumla CDO. "This is the time to prove that you can really serve your nation," he told me.
With that, I mustered all my courage to take up this challenge and started work two months later. It was a tragic beginning. On my first day, a grenade left behind by the Maoists accidentally killed two children. The people, already desperate, were in despair. The CDO office building had been destroyed, Maoist corpses still floated in the river. It was a difficult start.
The first thing I did was to assemble the local people and politicians from all parties. With their consensus, we used the state fund of Rs 1 million to rebuild the CDO office, the District Police Office and the Regional Police Post. With the remaining money, we renovated Chanda Nath School and temple. After that came the task of managing our local government bodies.
Three VDC secretaries had resumed work during the ceasefire, but they left soon again after the rebels attacked one of them. The local administration work stopped completely. So, I sent a letter to a local Maoist commander to seek his support. It wasn't long before the Maoists sent Angad Mahat to participate in our mass interaction program. It was there that Mahat agreed that VDC secretaries would not be mistreated. Soon, all 30 VDC offices were back in operation. Things were getting better.
But after I reached the Maoist-affected Tatopani, I received unpleasant news of a minor encounter between the security forces and the Maoists. The government had sent the army to run a relief program and the rebels wanted to run the army out. The secretaries fled their posts and are now back in Khalanga, the district headquarters.
The Maoists are spreading terror in the villages and we have not been able to reach every VDC. But things will get better once the government dispatches additional armed police forces. Right now, the local people live under extreme fear, especially after new rumours that the Maoists are planning an on the district headquarters. As for me, I live in a government quarter guarded by six civilian policemen. I have let behind my loved ones, my wife and children for my job. I am not running away, no matter what happens.