On the 18th of October 2012, troops of 159 Battalion CRPF launched an operation against the Naxalites at Chakrabandha forest, PS- Dumaria, Dist. Gaya(Bihar) under the leadership of my brave husband Captain Nirala Singh. As the troops were advancing towards their target and had reached till village Barha, the Naxalites, who were waiting in an ambush blasted a series of IEDs and opened fire at them indiscriminately. One of the vehicles came under the direct impact of the blast and its occupants sustained severe injuries. The troops immediately took positions and opened fire in retaliation. The Naxalites had carefully planned the ambush and were occupying all the dominating heights in the vicinity.
It was getting late enough to be worried. I once again stepped into the balcony and looked down. Except for a drenched street dog that was lying down miserably near the gate, there was not a soul to be seen anywhere. Rain water had puddled under the lamp post. A breeze ruffled the mango tree in the courtyard and a few twigs fell down and broke. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Did I hear a soft knock at the door? I turned back and walked slowly towards the door. Suspiciously, I opened it to see the constable Hari Ram standing there with his legs trembling. I requested him to come inside and gave a glass of water when he was sitting silently looking outside the window.
“Is everything alright Hariji?”, I asked him softly keeping my heart and soul in one piece.
“I really don’t know madam, but heard that Nirala Saheb was asking for reinforcement from the headquarter over the wireless. He was speaking to DIG sir in a very fumbling voice in between the cacophony of gun battle, which was clearly audible from the other side. I got to know that Ramjee sir is badly injured in an IED blast.” He said with an immense sadness in his voice.
“We policemen are the biggest sufferers of this endless battle madam. Ramjee Sir has just started his career last year. He is such a gentleman unlike many officers of his age, who are always in hangover by gulping the liquor provided by the traitors. He is still untouched by any sort of corruption and carry a sense of wisdom all the time. Sometimes I really wonder why a learned person like him joined the force to get killed like dogs. “
“Don’t worry that much Hariji as god always accompany the strong-willed people. I know my husband and he is no how lesser than a miracle. He will not let Ramjee die till the very last of his own breath. He is very protective for his team and if by any chance death comes anywhere closer then he will be the first one to give his own life. That is the kind of commitment he shows towards his duty.”, I said firmly suppressing my urge to cry my heart out. In the last 8 years of his service, my husband had been attacked for more than twenty-five times by the so called Red Army and suffered several bullet injuries in such gun battles.
I remember when I saw him for the first time. He was standing silently at one corner of the room beside his mother during our match making ritual. As a commanding officer, he was having a broad shoulder with very well-formed muscles and a pair of determined eyes. Initially, I was hesitant to marry him due to some obvious reason for being a daughter of an army personnel, but it was the humility and softness in his voice that attracted me more and more towards him. I became very submissive to him and wanted to share some part of his dreams. His love for the stray dogs and small kids was commendable. He very often brought the abandoned pups and other injured animals at home, gave proper treatment to their wounds, fed them well and then ensured to provide them a well sheltered NGOs meant for animals. Such was his kindness and that made him a charismatic leader well respected in his battalion both among senior and junior officers.
I was never sure about the kind of job he does until that night when he suddenly started to weep inconsolably and said that he has become a cold-blooded murderer to survive against those Naxalites. On further enquiry, I got to know that during one such operation he slit the throat of a 13-year aged kid, who was holding an assault rifle and was firing continuously at his unit without any provocation. He kept on urging the boy to drop his weapon and he will spare him, but he appeared to be intoxicated by the hollowness of poverty and hunger in the tribal areas having immense hatred for the federal force for some genuine reasons.
Many of such boys were given birth by their raped mothers without even knowing their illegitimate fathers, who mere considered the tribal women as the means to quench their occasional thirst to avenge their murdered fellow officers in frequent combats with Naxalites in those areas. It was all the part of operation green hunt launched by the central government in conjunction with states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh to neutralize the rebels. But, no one knew that such practices by local Policemen were not at all entertained by the CRPF men as they were trained to carry a very high moral and dignity unlike the state police force.
After that night, he frequently started to share with me more about his job and raids over the tribal village. He ensured that not a single villager was manhandled and given them the much-required empathy for their sufferings. According to my husband, those tribal were being sandwiched between the government and Naxalites. Their kids were forcibly snatched away to join the armed revolution against the government forces. In sort those kids were the first line of defence for the Naxalites to trap the CRPF men at the very entrance of the jungle. The CRPF has decided to put more boots on grounds with better firepower to tackle the Maoists in their strongholds after an incidence of year 2010 at Dante Wada, Chhattisgarh where federal forces suffered a string of fatal setback by losing 76 of its men.
“May god bless them and I wish to see all my colleagues in one pieces back again at the cantonment. We need people like Nirala Saheb and Ramjee Sir in a situation like this when we all are losing the hope for our lives. I will take your leave madam and will come back tomorrow morning with further updates. Do not hesitate to call me for anything you need. I can understand the pain you have to go through in days like this.” Hari Ram brought me back from all what I was thinking.
I got up from my place to see him off the main gate and waited for Lavanya to come back. Lavanya-loving daughter of a loving father. She too had a dream to join the armed forces like her father in those days and I never came in between her and her ambitions. From a very tender age of 5 itself she started to learn the ancient Indian Martial Art. That day she came flashing a medal that she won at a district level karate championship. She came looking for her father and got disappointed to know that he has been out on a trip to Jungle with his troops. In those days, she hardly saw her father at home as he was mostly occupied in the fierce battle against some of the very dreaded militants. He often used to tell her that they are our own countrymen, who are not happy with the kind of federal structure we have. They were forced to take law in their hands due to the long-term negligence, discrimination and suppression against them even after the independence.
“Isn’t there a solution for all that?”, I asked him on a normal day while massaging his head.
“No dear. Not in any near future. It will continue till the time there will be no one to fight. Looks like we are all cursed by those mothers who were repeatedly raped and whose children were butchered in front of them by both the sides. Sometimes for being a suspected rebel and sometimes for being a suspected police informer.” He said with heaviness in his voice.
Next day, he came back with some of his troopers wrapped up in tricolour, whose immortal spirits had already left their mortal ruins for others like them to get inspired and continue the battle. Shaheed SI Ramjee Ram was one of them. Before the reinforcement could reach, Nirala Singh had already lost 7 of his men and his left hand was chopped off by the Naxalites, who took it away along with the head of Ramjee’s pierced body as souvenirs. Such was their brutalism and hatred for our men in uniforms. They were all awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry posthumously by the Honourable President of India in 2013.
These days my husband works for a leading journal as a war journalist and keep on highlighting the story of all the wounded souls in the tribal area. Even today after so many years and after losing one of his limb in such battle, he still believes that it is being fought for no noble cause from either side. For CRPF men the battle is just to survive against all the odds and for Naxalites it has become more like a funded game played on the corpse of poor people. In one of his articles, it was mentioned that he never expected the nation to bleed for that long in between the competition to kill more number of enemies from both the sides. He thought that it will soon get over with growing industrialization and growth in those areas where the kids of red zone area will get the better earning for their livelihoods, but he was proven to be wrong when Naxalites killed one of the top executives of a multinational company. It was not going to be an easy war in either way but like true soldier he continued his battle against the red army.