Will return Padma award, says traditional medicine practitioner Hemchand Manjhi after threats from Naxalites

Hemchand Manjhi, popularly known as Vaidyaraj, also said he will discontinue his practice.

Updated - May 27, 2024 11:44 pm IST

Published - May 27, 2024 04:08 pm IST - Narayanpur

President Droupadi Murmu confers Padma Shri on Hemchand Manjhi in the field of Medicine in New Delhi. File

President Droupadi Murmu confers Padma Shri on Hemchand Manjhi in the field of Medicine in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: ANI

Traditional medicine practitioner Hemchand Manjhi, renowned for his stellar work from a remote village in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district, on May 27 said he will return his Padma Shri award, after he received threats from Naxalites.

Dr. Manjhi, popularly known as Vaidyaraj, also said he will discontinue his practice.

The 72-year-old traditional medicine practitioner last month received Padma Shri, the country's fourth highest civilian honour.

Naxalites on May 26 night set two under-construction mobile towers in Chameli and Gaurdand villages under Chhotedongar police station limits of the district on fire and put up banners and dropped pamphlets there threatening Dr. Manjhi, police said.

Click here for the full list of 2024 Padma awardees

The pamphlets also had a picture of Dr. Manjhi in which he is seen receiving the Padma Shri award from President Droupadi Murmu.

Naxalites have alleged that Majhi helped in the commissioning of the Aamdai Ghati iron ore project in Chhotedongar area of Narayanpur and received huge kickbacks for it, a charge denied by him in the past.

Naxalites had earlier also levelled the same allegations against Manjhi and threatened him with dire consequences.

Talking to PTI on May 27, Dr. Manjhi again refuted the charges and said he had already clarified to villagers that he has no connection with the iron ore mine.

He said that after discussing with his family, he has decided to return the Padma Shri award and discontinue his traditional medicine practice.

"I will return the Padma Shri award. Maoists say how I got the award from the President. I did not demand the award as I got it for my service to the people since I was no year 20-year-old. I give jad-booti (herbal medicines) for different ailments, particularly for cancer," he said.

"Earlier, they (naxalites) killed my nephew Komal Manjhi by levelling false allegations. My family is living under the shadow of threat," he said.

Dr. Manjhi's nephew Komal Manjhi was hacked to death by Naxalites in Chhotedongar, located around 45 km from the Narayanpur district headquarters, on December 9 last year after being accused of acting as agent for the Aamdai Ghati iron ore mine project and making huge money.

After that, police brought Hemchand Manjhi to Narayanpur town, where he has been living in a rented house with his family under the protection of three security personnel.

"I was allotted a house by the administration in Narayanpur but it has no boundary wall, facility of water and other amenities so I decided to live in a rented house. I appeal to the administration to provide a proper house," he said.

The Jayaswal Neco Industries Limited has been allotted the iron ore mine in Aamdai Ghati and Naxalites have been opposing the project for a long time.

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