The Chattisgarh government has increased its efforts to crack down on the Naxals. A report by The Indian Express suggests that security personnel have been moving ahead in the areas till now dominated by the Naxals. The construction of roads is also being undertaken at a rapid pace along with paying full attention to the danger of landmines. “While there are many places we are touching that was hitherto completely under their control, there are some that are of vital importance. Like Jagargonda,” D M Awasthi, special DG (anti-Naxal operations), Chhattisgarh told the Indian Express.
As teams search the under-construction roads for mines and provide security to those building them, they look 8 km ahead towards Jagargonda, a critical symbol in the battle for territory between the government and Maoists. Jagargonda village is becoming the epicentre of the tension lines as the village houses a security force camp while a police official admits the village to be a ‘Maoist territory’ in the report. Roads to the village are cut off, and any change to that narrative meets with Maoist resistance. The critical distance between the two (the naxals and the security forces) is decreasing fast, adds the report.
However, it wasn’t wasn’t always like this: 15 years ago, Jagargonda was considered the world’s second-biggest tamarind market, and a centre of commerce with roads from Sukma, Bijapur and Dantewada meeting here. “Slowly, the Maoists exerted their control, and for these reasons. Jagargonda connected all these three vital districts and was a hub. But now we are beginning to approach it again, despite incredible difficulties,” Awasthi said, as per the report. Under the government plan, the first road that officials see reaching Jagargonda is from Dantewada, with 8 km left. Security forces building this particular stretch, however, are wary of going forward for a destroyed bridge blocks their path. Notably, it was on this stretch that 37 CRPF men lost their lives in 2016 in the Bhejji and Burkapal attack.
Barring Jagargonda, the state government is also focussing on Kistaram, which is considered as the dominion of the Maoist military battalion number one, headed by elusive leader Hidma, as per the report. Pamed in Bijapur, which has so far been cut off from the rest of Chhattisgarh is another focal point for the government. The security forces are planning to make dents in these areas by 2018 as these are the areas from where the Maoists draw their strength from.