Nearly a year after their bitter experience with the Maoists, 135 villagers of Saagulu village under Devarapalli panchayat in G.K. Veedhi mandal are still apprehensive about retaliation of some kind from the outlawed outfit.
On February 19, 2013, the Maoists held a ‘panchayati’ in the nearby Lakkavaram village to solve a “dispute” between the Bhagatas and the Kondus of Saagulu.
There, the Maoists branded the Bhagatas landlords and demanded that they hand over the coffee plantations to the Kondus, who actually migrated from Odisha some decades ago due to industries coming up in their habitations.
Saagulu villagers were upset over the Maoists shielding Saanadu, thought he was allegedly misbehaving with women of the village, because he was close to them.
Protest by the villagers at the meeting escalated into a clash when the women of Saagulu took charge. The Maoists, reportedly led by Jambri, had beaten up the villagers. When the latter retaliated, they were fired at them, killing three villagers of Saagulu and injuring several others, some of them seriously.SP’s promise
On Monday, Superintendent of Police Vikram Jeet Duggal conducted a ‘Sadbhavana Sadassu’ in the village and promised all help to the villagers. As this was the first incident of people openly resisting and confronting the Maoists, the police were trying hard to win their confidence and impress Girijans to stay away from the Maoists.
The Bhagata village, in spite of being located in an area to which road connectivity at the best could be described as worst, has 30 youngsters who have studied or are studying B.Tech., B.Ed., degree, and ITI. As they have several educated youths among them, the villagers did not take the orders of Maoists lying down. The police pointed out that children in villages under Maoist influence were not going in for higher education, and those in Saagulu could pursue professional courses because they did not accept the Maoists.
People from Saagulu, Boosala, Lakkavaram, and Mallikarjunulu attended the meeting. People of Saagulu, when approached during the meeting, told The Hindu that though the Maoists had not visited the village after the incident in February last, they were not sure if the banned party would forget the incident or retaliate in a different way.
One of the severely injured persons who recovered after treatment at KGH said people like him would not go out of the village.
“Only women go out. Men generally avoid going to some of the villages (where Maoists have influence),” he said.
He and a few others are also not sure if the Maoists have wholeheartedly expressed their regret over the incident.
“I have heard that they contacted the Bhagatas of another village and wanted them to convey their regrets to Saagulu villagers, but they (the other village people) have refused and asked the Maoists to directly contact the villagers,” said a man from another village. He also noted that the bonhomie between the Bhagatas of Saagulu and Lakkavaram was not like in the past.
There used to be 29 Bhagata and 10 Kondu families in Saagulu. But, after the incident last year, seven Kondu families moved to the nearby Jerrelalanka. Now, only 15 Kondus belonging to three families live in the village.
The Bhagata and Kondu women talk to each other if some among the latter speak Telugu, said a graduate girl from the village. For the last few weeks, the Kondus stopped sending their children to the only school in the village.