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Hemchand Manjhi, traditional medicine practitioner, to return Padma Shri amid naxalite threats

In recent months, Manjhi has reported receiving multiple threats from Naxalite factions. These threats have escalated to the point where he feels compelled to relinquish his prestigious award to ensure his safety and the security of his family.

Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 New Delhi Updated on: May 27, 2024 17:04 IST
Hemchand Manjhi
Image Source : X/@MOAYUSH Hemchand Manjhi, a 70-year-old Traditional Medicine Practitioner, has been awarded the Padma Shri for his dedicated service in treating patients in Naxal-affected areas of Narayanpur and Bastar and his expertise in special herbs.

Hemchand Manjhi, a revered traditional medicine practitioner from Narayanpur district, announced on Monday his decision to return the Padma Shri award following threats from Naxalites. Manjhi, known as Vaidyaraj, also plans to discontinue his medical practice due to the escalating threats.

Recognition and threats

Manjhi, 72, received the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honor, last month for his contributions to traditional medicine. However, on Sunday night, Naxalites set fire to two under-construction mobile towers in Chameli and Gaurdand villages, leaving banners and pamphlets threatening Manjhi. The pamphlets included a photo of Manjhi receiving the award from President Droupadi Murmu.

Accusations and denial

The Naxalites accused Manjhi of facilitating the Aamdai Ghati iron ore project in Chhotedongar and receiving significant kickbacks, allegations he has consistently denied. Manjhi reiterated his innocence on Monday, stating he has no involvement with the mine.

Decision to return award

"After discussing with my family, I have decided to return the Padma Shri award and stop my practice," Manjhi told PTI. He emphasised that he did not seek the award, which he received for his lifelong service, including providing herbal remedies for various ailments, particularly cancer.

Previous incidents and safety concerns

Manjhi's nephew, Komal Manjhi, was killed by Naxalites in December last year, accused of being an agent for the Aamdai Ghati project. Following this, Manjhi and his family moved to Narayanpur town for safety, living under police protection.

Appeal for proper housing

Manjhi expressed dissatisfaction with the current living conditions provided by the administration. "The house allotted to me lacks a boundary wall, water supply, and other amenities. I request the administration to provide a proper house," he said.

Ongoing opposition to Iron ore project

The Aamdai Ghati iron ore mine, allotted to Jayaswal Neco Industries Limited, has faced prolonged opposition from Naxalites. Manjhi's decision to return his award highlights the severe impact of Naxalite threats on local communities and individuals dedicated to public service.

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