For most of her parents’ life, she wasn’t meant to be. Her father Bhagwat Jade joined Maoist cadres in 2005, when just 18, meeting her mother Tijo there. Like other men in Maoist ranks, he was told there was no place for children in war and he was sterilised. In late 2014, after he and Tijo had surrendered, Jade underwent reverse vasectomy.
On October 6, 2015, the two had a baby girl — becoming the first Maoist couple who opted for the procedure under a government initiative to have a child. They call her Aradhana — she who came from prayer.
Since 2012, the Chhattisgarh Police has organised reverse vasectomies for 12 Maoist men who have surrendered and expressed the wish to have children. Senior police officers hope Aradhana is the first of many.
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Says ADG (Anti Naxal Operations) R K Vij, “What we are trying to do is give them a life that has always been denied to them. There are other couples who have also been operated upon, and could soon be blessed with children. This has given them a new lease of life and has facilitated social rehabilitation.”
Looking at his four-month-old daughter, Jade can’t keep the smile off his lips. “Bachcha hoga, koi umeed hi nahin thi (We had no hope of having a child).”
“When I joined the Maoists, I gave up having a family. I would even tell other cadres, as part of my role, of the need for focus in our fight against police. Everything about me changed, even my name. The Naxals called me Bhagat when my real name is Narsingh. Then I met my wife, and we got married with our sangathan’s blessings. Maybe they sensed that we wanted a child, so they insisted I get nasbandi done. After that, even when we surrendered, we didn’t think we could have a child together… When police officers told me reverse vasectomy was possible, I didn’t let myself dream. I couldn’t believe it was true. Aradhana was born on October 6. Since then, I have only been dreaming,” Jade says.
The son of a powerful sarpanch in his village Sahpal, Jade had risen swiftly in the Maoist ranks after joining, becoming divisional committee member (DVC) in charge of the Pallemadi division in Rajnandgaon district. Tijo headed the division’s Chetna Natya Manchi when they met. Jade claims the only reason he became a Naxal was a fight with his father. “The Naxals used to come to my village, and I wanted to do something for my people. In one year, I got thoughts of leaving, but never went through with it.”
After Tijo and he got married, they could hardly spend any time together. “Constantly, I would worry about her. I just wanted a family with her.”
In 2013, he was sterilised. A year later, he finally left, following his brother’s killing by Maoists, and Tijo and he surrendered. He says his brother had been forced to work with police, and that is why was targeted by the Naxals. “They told me they only wanted to talk to him, but killed him.”
Living in a two-room house in Rajnandgaon Police Lines with other surrendered families, Jade remembers the time he and Tijo would sleep under trees, on a blue sheet, their weapons never far away.
Outside the house stands a silver-colour motorcycle with ‘police’ written in big red letters across the front, purchased from the salary Jade gets as “gopniya sainik (informer)”. “I bought it from someone in police lines itself,” Jade says.
However, Aradhana remains the most precious. In a room with pink walls, Jade shows off the mosquito net he bought for her and her clothes. “Look how small they are,” he says excitedly. Tijo smilies, saying nothing.
Soon, under the good behaviour terms of the rehabilitation policy of the state, Jade is likely to get a permanent job. He has already charted out plans for his little girl once a steady income is assured. “I signed up for the Sukanya Beema Yojana for her, even if she is four months old. I keep money away every month. I want her to study and learn. Then I want her to be what she wants to be, listen to her own heart.
For too long, and even now with police, I have to listen to instructions without any protest, often those I don’t agree with. That is not the life I want for her.”