Two surrendered Naxals join COVID-19 war, make masks for cops

Raipur: Two Naxals who surrendered in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district have extended a helping hand in the fight against coronavirus by preparing masks for police personnel and local people.

Madkam Lakkha (31) and Reena Vekko (30), who worked with Naxals in the forests of south Bastar, surrendered before police in the last couple of years after realising that “violence brings nothing except pain”.

They have now joined the war against the coronavirus pandemic as they have realised that “helping people gives ultimate happiness”.

Since the last 10 days, Lakkha and Vekko, along with a policeman, have been engaged in stitching cloth masks in Sukma town, located around 450 km from state capital Raipur.

“We have stitched around 1,000 masks so far. These masks are not only being used by local people but also police personnel,” Lakkha told PTI over phone.

Lakkha, who surrendered in August last year, worked with Maoists in various capacities, including militia commander-in-chief since joining the outlawed outfit in 2008.

He also mentored a tailoring team of ultras and used to stitch uniforms for senior cadres active in South Bastar and neighbouring Telangana.

“I am using my old skill and trying to support the police personnel who are working day and night during the lockdown. It is not a big contribution, but I am happy that I can be useful to society in some way, he said.

Lakkha also works with police in translating Maoist communications, that are mostly in local dialects, into Hindi which has helped the security forces in gathering vital intelligence for counter-insurgency operations.

Vekko, who quit the banned outfit in 2018 after being active as a hardcore rebel on Odisha-Chhattisgarh border for about a decade, voluntarilyjoined Lakkha in producing masks.

She was not familiar with tailoring work, but was trained in it as part of the government’s rehabilitation programme for surrendered rebels.

“We stitch around 100 to 120 masks in a day. The raw material for it is provided by local police, Lakkha said.

Hailing their contribution, Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P said the two surrendered cadres are playing their part in the battle against the pandemic, and setting an example for other such people.

“These little things are giving us hope that not all is lost and goodness remains,” the official said.

The masks prepared by them are being distributed by police free of cost among local people, he added.

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