With an aim of countering the ‘anti-developmental’ propaganda of Maoists, the CRPF has devised a new strategy of putting up hoardings in local dialect to seek tribals’ support in construction of a National Highway in Chhattisgarh’s worst insurgency-hit Sukma district.
Tasked to ensure security for the widening and relaying of the 76 km long Sukma-Konta road — a patch on National Highway 30 that connects Jagdalpur (district headquarters of Bastar) to Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh the Central Reserve Police Force is leaving no stone unturned to avoid any untoward incident during the ongoing project.
“For the first time such an initiative has been taken to counter the Naxals’ anti-development propaganda. The objective is to make people aware of how construction of this road will be fruitful for them and their future generations,” CRPF’s 2nd Battalion Commandant VVN Prasanna told PTI.
The unit is among five battalions of the paramilitary force tasked to ensure security for the construction of the Sukma-Dornapal-Konta route in the self-proclaimed ‘liberated zone’ of Maoists.
The ultras have been claiming that the construction of roads would “distort the culture of tribals” and people from urban areas will barge in and snatch their land. They don’t allow any developmental activity and even torch the vehicles engaged in construction work, Prasanna said.
“But now, they can no more misguide the people who want education, better treatment and communication facilities in their areas which are only possible through better connectivity,” he said.
The flexi-boards being put up display pictures of a well built four-lane road with a message in local ‘Gondi’ dialect seeking the support of tribals.
One of the messages says: Support in road construction, be a contributor in the development of your region.
Gondi is a largely spoken dialect of the region and more convincing. But, we will also put banners and posters in Hindi, Prasanna said.
The hoardings are being put up along the highway while wall posters will be pasted in the villages of the region.
Subsequently, meetings will also be held with the villagers seeking their support in the construction work, the CRPF official said.
Amid threats by the Naxals, there has been no maintenance work on this road for the past two-three years, reducing the highway to a single-lane dirt track that passes through thick forest and is accessible only by a two-wheeler during monsoons.
The Maoists are opposed to the road construction, fearing that it will spell disaster for them as it will lead to faster movement of security forces and material in south Bastar region.
Last year in March, the rebels had ambushed a team of security forces on this highway in which 11 CRPF jawans, four district police personnel and a civilian were killed when the patrolling team was on way to provide security to road construction workers.
During a meeting of a unified command (for anti-Naxal operations) last year, Chief Minister Raman Singh had decided to seek CRPF security for the construction of the National Highway from Raipur to Konta (Sukma district) via Jagdalpur.
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