Vedic chants echo in Naxal hotbed

via http://www.deccanchronicle.com published on December 15, 2008


Adilabad, Dec. 14: Vedic chants now fill the air in
the Naxal bastion of Allampalli in the district which once reverberated
with revolutionary slogans. Hundreds of tribal and non-tribal children
start their day by chanting slokas from the Vedas in the Chinna Jeeyar
Swamy Gurukulam in the jungles of Allampalli.

It was in the same area that the Naxalites triggered the first
landmine blast in the country on August 16, 1987, killing 10 policemen.
Ironically, the Jeeyar Educational Trust selected the same area for
establishing its gurukulam on January 26, 2004.

Tridandi Chinna Srimannarayana Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamy set up the
gurukulam with the purported aim of serving the tribals and other
people. The trust is also running a gurukulam in Bheersaipet village.
Thanks to the influence of the trust and Vedic education, the tribals
and non tribals of Allampalli now greet each other by chanting Jai
Srimannarayana.

It was the landmine blast which brought the hamlet to national
attention and forced the state government to focus on it. The then
Chief Minister, N.T. Ramarao, visited the interior Allampalli village
located in the dense forest and hills in Kadam mandal. After noticing
the abject poverty there, his government decided to “adopt” the
district to make it a model one. NTR promised to create 1,000 teacher
posts for tribal youth with basic educational qualifications and also
announced a special package of Rs 100 crore for the welfare of the
tribal populations. He also promised to curb the migrations of Banjaras
to the district from the bordering Maharashtra.

Allampalli was literally ruled by Naxalites in those days. They
enjoyed the total support of the tribal population. Top Naxalite
leaders used to take shelter there and marriages of Naxalite activists
were also held here. The area is totally transformed now. At present,
320 students are studying in the Jeeyar gurukulam in Allampalli and
majority of them are from the Lambada and Gonds communities.

“We teach Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavatham and other scriptures
and epics to the students,” said Ms Ajjarapu Ushasriraju, caretaker of
the gurukulam. “Students recite slokas every morning before going to
class. We are planning to establish five more gurukulams in the
district.”

She added that the study of Vedas would help the students become
more disciplined and virtuous. The Jeeyar Educational Trust is also
running single teacher schools in tribal villages in Chittaguda,
Dattajipet, Mangalsingh Thanda, Gangapur and Pareguda. However, Mr
Lingampalli Srihari of Allampalli said one should not undermine the
contribution of Naxalites, who ended exploitation of tribals and the
menace of liquor in the area.

“Earlier, the government used to blame Naxals for acting as a hurdle
to development but even after the Naxals influence abated, the
government is not taking up development works,” he added. “This shows
the government has no sincerity.”

“We ourselves have seen no Naxals in the area and have never faced
problems from them though local people say that this was once a hotbed
of Naxal activity,” said Mr Srinivasa Ramanujam, correspondent of the
gurukulam. “It is possible that peace has come to the area at last.”
Most tribals are illiterate don’t know even in which class their
children are studying. But they do know the value of education. “We
don’t know what they are learning it is a joy to see them going to
school wearing uniforms,” said Karipetha Lakku of Allampalli.


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