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Bastar’s Padma Shri Hemchand Manjhi to return honour, stops medical practice after Maoist threat | Raipur News

RAIPUR: In a grim response to Maoist threats, septuagenarian Padma Shri awardee Hemchand Manjhi, a revered traditional medicine practitioner in tribal Bastar’s Narayanpur district, has declared his intention to return the prestigious honour and cease his medical practice.
Known affectionately as ‘Vaidyaraj’, the 72-year-old Manjhi was honoured with the Padma Shri for his work only last month.
This Sunday, Maoists torched two mobile towers and disseminated menacing leaflets featuring Manjhi’s image, prompting his drastic decision to withdraw from his decades-long service to the region’s remote communities. Maoists have threatened Manjhi with dire consequences, accusing him of acting as an agent for the Aamdai iron-ore mines, the operations of which the Maoists have been opposing. Following the latest threats, Manjhi announced he would return the award and discontinue his medical practice.
The incident took place in the villages of Chameli and Gardand in the Chhotedonger region, where banners and leaflets were found depicting Manjhi receiving the Padma Shri award from the President. “Manjhi has been contributing to the commissioning of the Aamdai mining project and has also been receiving a lot in return,” the Maoist leaflet read, further threatening him with dire consequences. This is not the first time that Maoists have levelled such allegations and threatened Manjhi in this manner.
Denying the allegations, Manjhi said that he has no business dealings with the iron ore mine. “I have decided to return the Padma Shri award and discontinue my medical practice from now on. I made this decision after discussing it with my family. The Maoists unnecessarily scolded me and named top leaders of the country in their leaflets. I have been serving people with ‘jadi-booti’ for their diseases and ailments, such as cancer, since the age of 20. But no more,” Manjhi told reporters.
The Maoists had killed his nephew Komal Manjhi in December last year, accusing him of taking Rs 16 crore from the mines. Now they are accusing me of taking Rs 11 crore, he added.
“I have no clue about the dealings of this mine. We are living in a rented place under threat, and I appeal to the government to provide me with proper shelter and security. The house I was earlier provided by the district administration has no water, no facilities, and no boundary wall.”
“The Maoists have killed Komal, Sagar, Dukaan, and two more. We are living in fear, and my family has asked me to stop giving medicines and return the award,” Manjhi stated.
Manjhi has been given the protection of three security personnel after Komal’s killing, and he was shifted to Narayanpur town for his safety. However, he said that the house there had no basic facilities, which is why he had to move to a rented house.
Police said that the Maoists set ablaze the mobile towers on the intervening night of Monday and that the towers were under construction. A search has been launched in the region.

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