The children of Pochpani village, around 80 km from Jharkhand's industrial town Jamshedpur, carry sets of bows and arrows to defend themselves in case they encounter Maoists on their way to school. The armed students move in batches, and if push comes to shove, are ready to fight Maoists, they say.
Pochpani, which is situated on the border of Jharkhand and West Bengal, is a tribal area. Locals say Maoists hamper development in the area.
Ram Chandra Mardy, a local, said children have taken up the bows and arrows to fight Maoists. "If we get afraid of them now, they will try to scare us more," he says.
Due to Maoist influence, there is no school in the village. Children have to walk to a distant school, but since the area has no roads either, they have to pass through a jungle, locals say.
While the children are afraid of Maoists, they don't want to skip school, so they carry weapons to fight as a last resort, said the villagers.
"Some unidentified people have been seen in the jungle. They make gestures and call us. But as we move in groups and carry bows-and-arrows, they don't dare to come close," said Budhu Sabar, a Pochpani resident.
"These people are not from here. They speak in an alien language. We are afraid of them, and because of that, we carry bows and arrows to the school," Kala Sabar, a village student said.
With inputs from ANI
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