A platoon commander of the CPI (Maoist) and his wife have surrendered before the Chhattisgarh police.
Senior police officers said Sunnu Poyam, who joined the Maoists movement a decade ago, was the commander of platoon number 13 of Bijapur division. His wife Maini Majhi was a medical attendant with the Bhairamgarh local guerilla squad.
They said Poyam had joined the Dandakaranya Adivasi Mazdoor Sangh in 2003, where he worked for the next two years. He then became a part of the Mirtoor local organisation squad following which he trained members in IED explosives as Bhairamgarh area committee commander. In 2009, he was made commander of platoon 13.
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During his surrender, Poyam not only gave up his AK-47 rifle, the only one in the platoon, but also two SLR weapons besides other small weapons.
Speaking at a press meet at the state police headquarters after his surrender, Poyum said he first fled his village when members of Salwa Judum arrived and began targeting the residents.
“I left my village at that time… the work that we were doing did not make me happy, so I decided to surrender. The Naxals damage schools and buildings, take away ration cards so that people can’t buy rice from shops, (they) destroy roads. In 2013, Rs 50 lakh had been extorted from tendu patta growers in one area alone. I did not like all this.”
R K Vij, ADG Anti Naxal Operations, said the surrender of Poyum and his wife was symptomatic of the disillusionment within the Maoist cadre.
“Naxals take away ration cards of the poor because it suits them to keep the people backward. We want everyone to come and give up their arms and be rehabilitated in the mainstream… there are many who are leaving the cadre and returning to their villages because of their loss of faith with the cause,” Vij said.
At the same press conference, Poyum’s wife Maini said she left the cadre after she was repeatedly asked to extort money from villagers in exchange of letting them consume rice. “They used to tell villagers that we have to take money or there will be no rice,” she said.
Maini had studied till Class VII and worked in different capacities such as in the printing press, as a guard of Naxal state military incharge Sudhakar and doctor with Bairamgarh platoon 13.
Police officers said she told them that she received four months of medical training at Binagunda in Abujhmaad, where she was taught how to remove bullets from bodies, stitch wounds and cuts and check blood pressure and sugar level.
In accordance with Chhattisgarh’s surrender policy for Maoists, Poyum will receive Rs 8 lakh given his rank as platoon commander, as well as a reward of Rs 3 lakh for surrendering with a weapon. His wife will also receive Rs 1 lakh from the state.