Will return Padma award, says traditional medicine practitioner Manjhi after threats from Naxalites | India News

NEW DELHI: Hemchand Manjhi, affectionately known as Vaidyaraj, a revered traditional medicine practitioner from a remote village in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district, has announced his decision to return his Padma Shri award following threats from Naxalites. The 72-year-old, known for his exceptional contributions to traditional medicine, also declared his intention to cease his practice altogether.
Manjhi’s decision came after Naxalites on Sunday night set two under-construction mobile towers in Chameli and Gaurdand villages under Chhotedongar police station limits of the district on fire and put up banners and dropped pamphlets there threatening Manjhi, police said.
These pamphlets notably featured a picture of Manjhi receiving the Padma Shri award from President Droupadi Murmu.
The Naxalites accused Manjhi of aiding in the commissioning of the Aamdai Ghati iron ore project in Chhotedongar area and alleged he received substantial kickbacks for his involvement. Manjhi vehemently denied these allegations, reiterating that he has no association with the iron ore mine.
Manjhi said that he did not seek the Padma Shri award, which was conferred upon him in recognition of his decades-long service to the community through herbal medicine practices, particularly in treating ailments like cancer.
“I will return the Padma Shri award. Maoists say how I got the award from the President. I did not demand the award as I got it for my service to the people since I was no year 20-year-old. I give jadi-booti (herbal medicines) for different ailments, particularly for cancer,” he said.
“Earlier, they (naxalites) killed my nephew Komal Manjhi by levelling false allegations. My family is living under the shadow of threat,” he said.
Expressing distress over the situation, Manjhi recounted the tragic death of his nephew Komal Manjhi, who was killed by Naxalites last year on similar false allegations regarding the iron ore project. Following this incident, Manjhi and his family have been living under constant threat, necessitating police protection.
Despite the protective measures, Manjhi highlighted the lack of basic amenities in the accommodation provided by the administration, appealing for suitable housing arrangements.
The Aamdai Ghati iron ore project, operated by Jayaswal Neco Industries Limited, has long been a subject of contention with Naxalites opposing its operation.
(With inputs from agencies)

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