Transformation of life for the 17 naxalites, who surrendered during the tenure of the then Chief Minister NTR, is not smooth. As per the initial surrender rehabilitation package, they were promised a sum of Rs. 5 lakh.

During the late 1980s they wielded the 303 Lee Enfield rifle with aplomb and today they hold the drill machine in their hands. The drone of the rock drill machine reminds them of their penury. This is the story of transformation of life for the 17 naxalites who surrendered on the insistence of the then Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao, in 1994.

As per the initial surrender rehabilitation package, they were promised a sum of Rs. 5 lakh, but at the end of the day they were given five acres of land each in Kunchangi village at Anakapalle. But the land allotted to them was dry and far from any perennial water source.

“The only crop that we could grow on this land is cashew. But even that needs water and we had to sink bore-wells and install pumps. Today, the wells have gone dry and the pumps are ruined,” laments a 48-year-old P. Konda, a Girijan from G. Madugula.

Konda was a member of the Tandava dalam and had played a key role in the Nimmagedda exchange of fire with the security forces. Like him most of them are either from the Tandava or Korukonda dalams of the then CPI-ML (People’s War group), led by legendary Kondapalli Seetharamaiah. The banned outfit later became CPI (Maoist).

Under threat

Once dreaded and feared, today they live in fear and are fighting to keep away the wolf from the door.

“The cashew crop gives us peanuts. And we are now forced to work as daily wage labourers in the neighbouring stone quarry. We joined the Naxal movement to fight hunger at home, but things haven’t changed. We are worried for our children, as they lack good food and education,” says M. Chanti, a former member of Korukonda dalam.

Among the 17 odd families, six have sold their holdings to benami owners unable to bear the plight and moved away and two who served as deputy dalam commanders and are educated have turned to quarry owners, using their skill and clout. For the rest, it is hand to mouth existence on a daily basis.

Most importantly, their past still haunts them. Banks do not give loans, and till a couple of year ago, they regularly faced police harassment.

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