By Sandeep Pouranik
Sukma (Chhattisgarh), June 19 (IANS) Reminiscent of ‘Sholay’ heroes Jai and Veeru, Sukma’s District Magistrate Chandan Kumar and Superintendent of Police Shalabh Sinha nonchalantly rode a motorcycle to inspect far-flung areas of the Maoist-affected Chhattisgarh district.
Bordering Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the district witnesses significant Maoist activity which impacts both village residents and even officials, who are wary of venturing into the dense forests to visit the villages.
It was in a bid to dispel this fear among officials and to create a sense of security and trust among the people that the two top officials, ignoring security concerns, set out on their motorcycle journey on Monday to obtain a first-hand idea of the situation.
Talking to IANS, Chandan Kumar said: “We went in vehicles till one point and even took the help of security forces to traverse the roads suspected to be mined. After that, I and the SP took a motorcycle and rode on, passing through a dense jungle area. We stayed alert and had no problems.”
Among areas where they visited was the Kistaram police station area, which is believed to be Maoist-dominated but where several government projects are being implemented. It can only be reached by a torturous and dangerous route, which passes through contiguous areas of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
“Reaching the Kistaram village, we inspected the ongoing projects. A school, hostel, health centre, etc are being built there. A road is also being built which will benefit the local residents. When we reached the anganwadi centre, we were pleased to see children being fed eggs and bananas,” the DM said.
“In Suddur area, we met Central Reserve Police Force troopers and state police personnel and asked them about their problems, and sought to evoke trust of officials among the local residents. This was our objective.”
Asked how they hit on the idea of the motorcycle journey, the district police chief told IANS that usually very few people go to Kistaram… officials don’t want to go because of Maoist activities there. However, the District Magistrate expressed his desire to go to the spot to take stock of development works, ration distribution and so on and hear from the people themselves about their problems. There is also a CRPF and police camp in the area which we also went too.”
The bike ride of the top officials has created a buzz in the area, but it remains to be seen if like Jai-Veeru created a sense of security among the villagers against the dacoit Gabbar Singh, their effort will create a similar effect.
Chhattisgarh has long been wracked by Maoist violence. In 2013, top state Congress leaders including former Union Minister Vidya Charan Shukla, then state unit chief Nand Kumar Patel and his son and ‘Salwa Judum’ founder Mahendra Karma were among the over 30 people killed after their convoy was ambushed in the Darbha Valley area. Security forces have also born the brunt of attacks of the ultra-Left rebels.