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.
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 plying 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.