Jharkhand polls: Ex-Naxal prefers ballots over bullets

Jharkhand polls: Ex-Naxal prefers ballots over bullets

A hoarding in Tamar (Jharkhand) with a plea to vote for Kundan Pahan, former naxalite, who is contesting the Assembly poll after his surrender to police in 2017. DH Photo

Around 65 kilometres from Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, lies a sleepy, dusty hamlet called Tamar.

It remains in the news mostly for two prime reasons. First, the Naxal violence as it is the hotbed for Maoists spread all over the jungles of Jharkhand. Secondly, former Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni often travels to Tamar to pay obeisance at Deori temple, one of the most revered religious sites here in Jharkhand.

However, in the days to come, Tamar will again be in the news. This time it will be because of Kundan Pahan, the former Naxalite, who is contesting the Assembly elections in Jharkhand from this Maoist-infested zone.

Pahan is no run-of-the-mill candidate. Locals call him 'Robinhood'. Others argue he is the ‘Veerappan of Jharkhand’ and cares for the needy, poor and deprived sections of the society.

Pahan surrendered before the police in 2017 and is currently lodged in Hazaribagh jail. Earlier this month, he sought permission from the NIA court to contest the Jharkhand Assembly election so that he could join the mainstream of Indian politics. His plea was accepted by the judge Navneet Kumar following which a handcuffed Pahan filed his nomination papers from Tamar, a citadel of Maoists.  

Facing 127 cases of loot and murder, including the killing of former minister Ramesh Munda, ex-MP Sunil Mahato, a DSP (Pramod Kumar) and an inspector (Francis), Pahan hogged the limelight when he was charged with looting Rs 5 crore and 1.25 kgs of gold from the cash van of ICICI Bank on Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway a few years ago.

“Out of 127 criminal cases, there are 50 cases against him in Khunti, 42 in Ranchi, 27 in Chaibasa, seven in Saraikela and one in Gumla,” a source in Jharkhand Police told DH here on Friday.

“He has been charged with killing people. He has been charged with accumulating wealth. But for whom was he doing so? Obviously, for the poor and needy of Tamar, as he is known here as Robinhood,” Pahan’s aide Ajay Choudhary tells DH. “A reformed person, Pahan now believes more in ballots than bullets. And I am sure the electorate of this constituency will give him one chance this year when Tamar votes on December 7,” the aide told DH.

Pahan faces Ram Dularbh Singh Munda of the AJSU as his main rival.

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