LATEHAR, JHARKHAND: A Naxal-hit village in Jharkhand has celebrated Diwali in its “true sense” this year as electricity has reached the remote village for the first time.
Garu village, about 1,400 kms from New Delhi and 175 kms from the state capital Ranchi, comes under the jurisdiction of Latehar district which is among the most Naxal-infested areas of the state.
“We were waiting for electricity for a long time. Government representatives had been assuring us of providing electricity for a long while but finally this year only, we experienced it,” says Shiv Shankar Singh, Garu village head.
“Farming has improved after electricity came here as we don’t need to bother about buying diesel. Though the voltage is low, people are happy with the step,” Sukhdev Oraon, a village council member, said.
Garu village had long been ignored in development schemes as Naxals were not allowing any work to be undertaken by carrying out attacks.
“As Naxals were opposed to any kind of development in the area, no private builder was ready to take the contract. It is only after the CRPF gave them assurance about the safety and security, they started building roads,” Ramesh Kumar, Commandant of 112th battalion of CRPF said.
This also allowed other development works in the area.
“Our armed troops used to provide them cover so that Naxals could not attack or hamper the work. Now, the entire area is well connected with the road,” Mr Kumar said.
“We try to create as mush trust among people for security forces as we can. We approach people and involve them in our planning. We distribute our numbers and remain in touch with them,” he added.
Ram Lal Prasad, MLA representative of Garu, says there has been a lot of change after CRPF came in the area.
“This is the first time that Garu village has got electricity. People here celebrated Diwali for the first time in a true sense,” Sanjay Prasad, a local resident, said.
“You can imagine how people feel here as some elderly said their life is successful as they got to see how a bulb works,” said Sudhir Yadav, a villager.
“I bought a television after my wife insisted. We use it to watch mostly news and sometimes TV serials. Now, several families in the area are buying TV sets. Electricity here is round the clock,” Raju Prasad Yadav said.
The electrification of the village was almost impossible without the involvement of Labhar area, which was once a training camp and launch pad of Naxals, Deputy Commandant of CRPF Prakash Chandra Badal said.
“Labhar was liberated by CRPF from Naxals in 2011. It is now a CRPF camp from where they are operating in the area. CRPF has assisted the local administration in the all round development of the area,” Mr Badal said.
“Now we are not scared of Naxals. We are safe and secure here. It feels like the CRPF is our guardian in the area,” Jugal Kishore Prasad of Haratu village said.