RANCHI: The Shahdeo family in Lohardaga has been living in the shadow of Maoist fear ever since it took on the Left-wing extremists in the 1980s. The land-holding family`s worst fears came true on Saturday when some Maoists abducted three prominent members of the family, who had gone hunting and picnicking in the forests, and later killed them in Lohardaga. One among the three had survived a rebel attack in 2002. The Maoists had reportedly held a jan-adalat before killing the three and seizing their licensed rifles. Thakur Balmukund Nath Shahdeo, who lost his brothers Bal Kishore Nath Shahdeo and Lal Jay Kishore Nath Shahdeo and nephew Lal Pramod Nath Shahdeo in Saturday`s attack, said the rivalry between the family and Maoists is more than 25 years old.
“Some assailants had opened more than 100 rounds of fire on a jeep in which several Shahdeo men were travelling from Lohardaga to Latehar in 1991. Armed with guns, the Shahdeos too shot back forcing the Maoists to run for cover. No one was injured in the incident,” said Shahdeo, a BJP leader and former chairman of the Jharkhand Pollution Control Board. The Shahdeos lived at Murmu in Peshrar block of the Red-hit district. In the past 10 years, the Maoists have claimed the lives of five members of the Shahdeo family and made several attempts to kill the rest. The terror runs so deep that the family has trained even its female members to defend themselves. Sources said the Maoists intensified their attacks on the Shahdeos since 1991.
Mukhiya Lal Awadh Nath Shahdeo was killed in 2002. Some years later, Thakur Balmukund`s brother, Lal Vijay Kishore Nath Shahdeo, was going to Latehar on a bike when Maoists opened fire on him in 2008. He, however, escaped unhurt. He was one of the three to be killed in Saturday`s attack. “The Maoists often open fire at their houses, torch their foodgrain stocks on fire and so on,” said Congress spokesperson Lal Kishore Nath Shahdeo, also a member of the Shahdeo family. Jayant Nath Shahdeo, grandson of Ratu Maharaja who was the last Shahdeo ruler in Jharkhand, said: “Maoists forced many landholding families to migrate to the state capital from Lohardaga. More than 25 families continue to live in their palatial houses in Lohardaga, which is one of the worst Maoist-hit districts in the state. They engage labourers in the fields where paddy and wheat are grown.