Mulchera is next to Lohara, site of first anti-Maoist operation in Gadchiroli. (Representational)
As part of efforts to wipe out its identity as a Maoist-affected village, residents of Mulchera in Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district start their day by singing the national anthem together.
"It's a good initiative. Villagers experience a sense of collective patriotism everyday by singing the national anthem," Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police Ankit Goyal told PTI.
Mulchera, located 900 kilometres from state capital Mumbai, has a population around 2,500. The village has a mixed population of tribals and people hailing from West Bengal.
It is the third village in the country and second in Maharashtra after Telangana's Nalgonda village and Bhilwadi village in Sangli district of Maharashtra to start this practice, another police official said.
Every day, residents of the village, including the owners of shops and other commercial establishments, small traders and police personnel gather at 8.45 am and sing the anthem.
People stop their vehicles wherever they are when the singing of the national anthem starts and join in.
Even two state transport buses running in the village come to a halt and its staff and passengers join in the chorus.
The neighbouring village of Vivekanandpur has also started this practice. Its residents also sing the national anthem at 8.45 am everyday.
Police officials do rounds of Mulchera and Vivekanandpur with two loudspeakers everyday and play a patriotic song for a minute. It signals that the national anthem is about to start.
This has given people new energy and increased their sense of patriotism, the police official said.
The number of disputes has fallen as the communal singing of the anthem has increased the sense of fraternity, he said.
Mulchera's neighbouring village of Lohara, which falls in the jurisdiction of Mulchera police station, was the site of the first encounter between police and the Maoists in Gadchiroli, said Assistant Police Inspector (API) Ashok Bhapkar who started the anthem-singing initiative in the village.
Suspected Maoist commander Santosh Anna and a child whom he was using a human shield were killed during an encounter in the village in 1992, he said.
It was then dubbed as a Maoist-affected village as a consequence of the threat.
A woman from Mulchera, a suspected Maoist, surrendered before the police along with her male associate recently.
Some years ago, another woman hailing from Kokobanda in Mulchera police station limits and a suspected Maoist were killed in a police encounter.
"With initiatives like the singing of national anthem, we are trying to shun our identity as a Maoist-affected village," said API Bhapkar.
Among other initiatives to curb the Maoist menace, the Gadchiroli police have introduced 'Police Dadlora Khidki', said another official.
This single-window system facilitates the implementation of government schemes and provides various official certificates, high-quality seeds and other benefits to people, he said.
A total of 53 Dadalora windows have been set up in Gadchiroli district, he added.