10 years ago, Maoists accused Phaguram Chaudhari of being an army informant and killed him. Since that day Chaudhari's wife, Ramkrishni has been struggling to raise her four children. Although the government announced compensation worth Rs 300,000 for families affected by the conflict, Ramkrishni found out about this provision only after other victims in the village told her. While she was getting together the required documents, her brother-in-law took advantage of her illiteracy, tricked her and took half the compensation amount.
"It took months to prepare my citizenship card, marriage registration certificate, police report and other documents," she recalls, "but my brother-in law presented himself as the rightful family member and claimed half the money."
When Ramkrishni discovered that her brother-in-law had forged documents and siphoned part of the reimbursement, she asked for help from her neighbours and relatives. Even though he had agreed to return the money a long time ago, Ramkrishni has lost hope by now.
Shanti Chaudhari who lost her husband in a mine explosion shares a similar story. She says she received only half of the declared amount while her brother-in-law took the other half and adds that relations with her family have turned sour over the past few months.
The state introduced the compensation package to help families and victims of war, but many are now fighting over it. For instance, Bhakili bought a small plot of land in the district headquarter with the government money, but her brother-in-law is claiming the land. Another widow Dhanadebi Chaudhari says her brother-in-law took away Rs 25,000 and her husband's family regularly threaten her. "I have had to suffer a lot because of my lack of education. Even after I got hold of my citizenship, my brother-in-law made it very difficult for me to get reimbursed. But the money is compensation for my husband's death and it rightfully belongs to me," she explains.