A school in Masapara village of Chhattisgarh that had been lying abandoned after being razed by Moists in 2008 and 2015 is now ready to welcome students. The school has been rebuilt brick by brick, painted pink, yellow and green — by the same Maoists who razed it.
These Maoists are now guilt-ridden and doing the work in an attempt to be accepted back in the mainstream. They have decided to rebuild roads next.
The primary school is in Masapara in a forest patch about 10 km from Dantewada and 350 km south of Raipur — a district where literacy is only 42% as per the 2011 Census. It is a matter of pride for the villages to have a school here. In the two Maoist attacks in question, the Masapara school had become a ramshackle building.
“After giving up arms, we saw the damage we had done. But we were overwhelmed when we realized the villagers were with us in the plan to reconstruct the building,” Santu Kunjam, one of the surrendered Maoists, told The Times Of India.
After struggling for three months to rebuild the school, with support from the district administration, they were finally successful.
“We will send our children to this school now,” Kunjam said.
According to Dantewada SP Abhishek Pallava, a group of 18 people from Bhansi and Kamaloor area committees had surrendered on Jul 1 under the Lon Varratu campaign. Some of them are women.
They said they realise the need for educating their children. They admitted to razing this school building twice, and volunteered to rebuild it,” said the SP. Dantewada collector Dipak Soni. Soni sanctioned the project within three days.
The collector said that the group of Maoists who surrendered were infamous for destroying railway tracks, damaging roads and blowing up bridges and school buildings. Now they have volunteered to rebuild what they had once reduced to rubble.
“We aim to give a better way of life to surrendered Maoists and over 200 of them have given up arms under Lon Varratu campaign,” Soni said.
Kunjam said: “We felt there is a dire need for roads here. Children need education, and youths need jobs. Steadily, all these developments will be done with our contribution.”