A Maoist founder who never wore a uniform, never went underground

FP‘Sons had no option but to join party,’ says Badri Rai

Badri Rai is possibly one of the humblest men around. Dumka and Pakur police say he was one of the founding members of the CPI (Maoist) in the Santhal Pargana zone and was a sub-zonal commander.

The 57-year-old man sitting outside his house in Dumka's Sahruapani village smiles and shrugs. After being in jail from 2007 to April 2012, Rai, whose village is within the Kathikund block, now calls himself a farmer.

His sons have moved up to replace their father: zonal commander Ramlal Rai, about 30 years old, is now in jail after being arrested in February. Shahdev Rai, 35, is commander of one of the three sub-zones that comprise the SP zone.

It is being widely speculated that Shahdev, along with zonal commander Praveerda, planned the July 2 attack on Pakur SP Amarjit Balihar to avenge his brother's arrest.

"They were forced into joining the party," said Rai, and it was the only time he became emotional during a 45-minute interview. "The police would trouble my children so much during my time in jail, they had no option but to run away and join the party. Shahdev was leading a normal life in the village, he had a grocery shop here," he said.

Rai claims he was jailed for an incident for which he was not responsible. "The police wanted me in, so they charged me in a case where some dumpers were set on fire. I was not even around that day. The case was finally thrown out," he said.

Rai said he joined what was then the Maoist Communist Centre in 2003-04 and never went underground. He claims he never got arms training and that he was active only in the Maoist frontal organisation Kisan Committee, involved in mobilising farmers against money lenders.

"The party was started here in 2001 by people who came from Giridih district and Bihar's Bhagalpur. Most of my time was spent doing groundwork. I never wore a uniform," he said.

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