CRPF DG flags lack of roads in core Chhattisgarh Maoist areas

Lack of road connectivity remains a “serious” challenge for security forces who are moving deeper into Maoist-dominated areas of Chhattisgarh to set up new camps every year, CRPF DG Kuldiep Singh said on Thursday.

He said the force has set up 20 Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) deep inside the state’s jungles but over 330 km of roads in the Sukma-Bijapur-Dantewada region are pending completion for almost 12 years. “The issue of roads (in the core Naxal zone) is a serious one. Our camps are increasing by the day, deeper in Maoist areas. But we don’t have roads connecting them. There are projects stuck since 2007-08,” he said.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the 63rd CRPF Day celebrations to be held in Jammu on March 19, Singh also said that incidents of violence have come down in Jammu and Kashmir. Asked about the force’s role in the UP and Punjab polls, he said the CRPF provided cover to 41 VIPs, and that security for 27 was withdrawn after the elections.

According to CRPF data, 58 FOBs have been set up by the CRPF in zones affected by Left Wing Extremism (LWE) since 2020. Of these, 35 have been set up in the past one year alone, mostly in Chhattisgarh where Maoists continue to hold sway in parts of South Bastar.

At the same time, the data show, only 50 per cent work has been completed on the 331 km of roads in the Sukma-Bijapur-Dantewada region that was sanctioned by the Government in 2010. In 2012, two more road projects — Konta-Gollapalli (44 km) and Bheji-Chintagufa (65 km) — were sanctioned for Sukma, but only 6 km of these have been constructed. Similarly, work on an 8-km road project in Sukma sanctioned in 2015 is still in the initial stage.

Security forces have been pushing for good roads in core Maoist areas for them to launch quicker operations and prevent IED attacks. “There are multiple difficulties in this, the threat from Maoists is one,” Singh said.

In 2017, 12 CRPF personnel were killed in a Maoist ambush while on security duty for a road being constructed at Bheji in Sukma, followed by another ambush more than a month later in Burkapal where 25 CRPF personnel were killed. Over the past year, the CRPF engaged in multiple encounters with Maoists in LWE areas where 19 Maoists and 10 CRPF men were killed.

Asked about allegations of a delay in the arrival of a rescue helicopter to evacuate an assistant commandant, who was severely injured in an IED attack by Maoists in Gaya last month and subsequently lost both his legs, Singh said: “I take full responsibility for this.”

The CRPF DG said: “The helicopter did arrive but because it was already night. The pilot said he could not fly out to take the injured to Ranchi. I feel sad that it could not happen. But I don’t want to blame anyone. There must have been some difficulties. We tried to do whatever we could.”

Singh said that in Chhattisgarh, the force has set up night-landing facilities at 13 locations and is adding 2-3 such facilities every year.
On Jammu and Kashmir, Singh said that violence has decreased and there were fewer foreign terrorists in the Valley than a few years ago. As many as 175 terrorists were killed in J&K in last one year from March 2021 to March 2022, he said.

When asked if the atmosphere was conducive for Kashmir Pandits to return, Singh said, “It is not for me to decide. If Pandits are willing to come back and the Government asks us to create a conducive atmosphere, we will do our best.”

Responding to a question on whether CRPF would hold a screening for its jawans of “Kashmir Files”, the recently released movie on the exodus of Kashmir Pandits from the valley, Singh said: “If there is a good motivational film, people should watch it. Whether we will do a screening or not, we have not decided. The CRPF is spread across the country. But we will discuss this and take a decision.”


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