Ranchi, Oct 28 (IANS) Despite a good monsoon, farmers in Jharkhand are refusing to till their land due to fear of Maoists who have warned them against cultivation.
The result is that around 10,000 acres of cultivable land is lying fallow in the state.
Maoists of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) say the land belongs to the poor.
The CPI-Maoist put black flags on thousands of acres of land in different parts of the state before the monsoon and decreed against farming activity there.
The worst affected districts are Palamau, Hazaribagh and Chatra. Maoist rebels threatened the land owners to face their wrath if they dared to plough the fields.
'This year we were hopeful of good farming, but the Maoist diktat prevented us from going to the fields. Who will risk their life by tilling the field,' said Mohan Prakash, a farmer of Palamau.
Awdhesh Singh, a farmer of Chatra, said: 'In our district more than 2,000 acres of land is lying fallow as the Maoists gave a ruling against their tilling.'
'The rebels think the land belongs to the poor,' he said.
The farmers are disappointed as the state received good rainfall after five years.
Jharkhand was declared drought-affected for four consecutive years by the state government. But this year the rainfall was enough for sowing of paddy.
Palamau, one of the worst drought-affected districts that fall under the rain shadow zone, had good rains. However, the joy of farmers at the hope of tilling their fields evaporated when the Maoists issued the diktat.
According to an estimate, more than 10,000 acres of land is lying fallow due to the Maoist threat.
'We have information about the Maoist ruling. At some places we deployed security forces but the farmers did not dare to plough the fields,' said Uddayan Kumar, superintendent of police, Palamau.
'We find difficulty in taking action as the farmers do not lodge any complaint to police,' he said.
The farmers said the police cannot ensure their safety since the Maoists run a parallel government in rural areas and the cops themselves are at a disadvantage.
The Maoist directive is making adverse impact on the economy of the state. Jharkhand produces only half of food grains of the total consumption. Only 30 percent land is cultivable and of the total cultivable land, only 12 percent is irrigated through irrigation system.