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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Chhattisgarh: Township for surrendered Naxals coming up in insurgency-hit Dantewada

The district police, as part of their surrender and rehabilitation drive 'Lon Varratu' to encourage ultras to quit violence, have introduced the township project in view of the safety of the surrendered cadres who belong to the worst Maoist-hit areas.

By: PTI | Raipur |
Updated: August 12, 2021 2:11:46 pm
Dantewada, located around 400 km from the state capital Raipur, is one of the worst Naxal-hit districts in Bastar region and has witnessed several deadly Maoist incidents. (Express File Photo by Neeraj Priyadarshi)

Police in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district are developing a township exclusively for surrendered Naxals where they will be provided accommodation for their safety as well as skillful training to lead a better life, an official said on Thursday.

The official claimed it to be the first-of-its-kind of initiative in the country and said some of the surrendered Naxals are also involved in the construction of the township.

Dantewada, located around 400 km from the state capital Raipur, is one of the worst Naxal-hit districts in Bastar region and has witnessed several deadly Maoist incidents.

The district police, as part of their surrender and rehabilitation drive ‘Lon Varratu’ (termed in local Gondi dialect for return to your home/village) to encourage ultras to quit violence, have introduced the township project in view of the safety of the surrendered cadres who belong to the worst Maoist-hit areas.

“For the first time, such a kind of township is being built for surrendered Naxals in the country. We plan to inaugurate it on January 26 next year,” Dantewada Superintendent of Police Abshishek Pallava told PTI.

The township, being developed in 39 acres in front of the Police Lines in Dantewada, will have 108 one BHK (bedroom-house-kitchen) apartments, apart from a recreational centre, yoga centres-cum-gym, a primary school, primary health centre, transit hostel and anganwadi, he said.

In the first phase, construction will take place in 21 acres of area, he said.

The township is being built from the special assistance fund given by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Rs 2.5 crore has been sanctioned as a first installment. The total cost of the project would be around Rs 9 crore, the official said.

“We launched the ‘Lon Varratu’ campaign in June last year which has yielded good results as 400 ultras have quit violence under the drive so far,” he said.

Along with this drive, police have also been conducting a survey to assess the security situation, in view of the Maoist threat, in each and every village in the district.

The villages are coded in three categories — red (hypersensitive), yellow (sensitive) and green (normal), Pallava said.

“It was found that the surrendered cadres who belong to red coded villages have a threat to their life from their former colleagues. It would not be safe for them if they return to their native villages,” he said.

After the assessment, the police decided to develop ‘Lon Varratu hub’, a township as a second phase of the drive, for the ideal rehabilitation of such cadres, said Pallava, the brain behind the project.

“The surrendered cadres belonging to red coded villages will be provided housing facilities in the township. The good part of it is that they will not be permanently displaced from their native villages. Once their villages get rid of the red code and are categorised as yellow or green, and the situation becomes conducive for them to live there, they will be allowed to go back,” he said.

Besides, victims of Naxal violence in red coded villages will also be given accommodation in the township as per their wishes, the official said.

The township will also have a livelihood college where residents will be given training in around 20 different trades, including motorcycle repair work, processing of minor forest produce, and modern farming, he said.

Twenty shops are also being built in the township where surrendered cadres, after skill development training, will be given assistance to start business.

Like houses, the shops will also not be allotted permanently to anyone and will be operated on a cooperative basis. The income generated from these shops will be given as stipend to the surrendered cadres, the official said.

They will be imparted training in only those disciplines which have practical utility so that after returning to their village, they can use the skill to earn their livelihood, he said.

In red coded villages, the police have started helping residents to get the Ayushman card, Aadhaar card, ration card and voter card and to open their bank accounts, he said.

“The administrative vacuum is cited as one of the main reasons for the left wing extremism, so we wanted to fill that vacuum,” he added.

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