Sudama locals insecure as army takes back self-defence weapons

Himalayan News Service

Sudama (Sarlahi), May 6:

Hit hard by the Maoists and dacoits operating in the Indo-Nepal border areas, the residents of Sudama VDC in Sarlahi are now living in terror after the Royal Nepal Army took back the weapons it had provided them for self-defence.

RNA had provided them with some guns four months ago after they heroically defended a Maoist attack last year. The weapons were believed to have been provided under the government strategy of providing locals with weapons to defend the Maoists by forming village protection groups.

"The security forces took back all the guns they had provided us," a member of the group said.

According to the outgoing DDC member, Jagdish Singh, 10 guns, which had been given to the locals, have been taken away. Now they have neither guns nor security assurance from the government. "We feel like scapegoat at the moment," added Singh.

However, RNA sources said the weapons have been taken away from the locals after suspicions that the locals are being involved in dacoity cases. Security sources have suspected the misuse of weapons after a gun used in a dacoity case at Bashwariya was found to be the one which they had provided to the locals.

Meanwhile, superintendent of police Ganeshraj Rai said that the security forces are patrolling the VDC every night.

After the security forces took back the guns, majority of the locals has fled to India out of the fear of Maoist attack. Out of the total 4,000 people residing in Sudama, 1,693 are women. Amongst them, over 80 percent of the women have fled to Sitamadi, Sibhaha and Mojaffarpur of Bihar, said Darogar Singh (76), a local who is one among the displaced.

"We are committed to provide security to the locals at anytime," said SP Rai, adding "but how can we stop them from going to India seeking safety?"

On Asoj 18 last year, the villagers had chased away the Maoists the Maoists who had come to abduct the eldest son of the outgoing VDC chairman Sitaram Singh. On Asoj 20, they arrested two Maoists and handed over them to the police. Since then the villagers are being targeted by the Maoists.

Though the police have started patrolling Sudama, locals want a permanent security camp established in the VDC.