An eerie silence and fear hangs over Bijapur after Naxals killed several policemen in two attacks in the recent past.
A group of 200 armed Naxals killed 11 policemen in a thick jungle in this district on November 2. This was followed by a similar ambush on a 20-member police force in which five policemen were killed on October 30. Both attacks have shaken the police force and shocked the people here.
While the district police hold the administration responsible for its failure to facilitate development — which they say has provoked the Naxal attacks — ordinary people blame the Chhattisgarh government for failing to restore peace and ensure growth in the area.
“What purpose do the funds serve when no development is seen to take place in districts like Bijapur and Dantewada,” asked retired teacher Tekram Kurre, a resident of Bijapur.
In the past year, Bijapur has seen just 10 kilometers of road being built and not more than 50 kilometers of roads have been laid since the state was created years ago. The roads were constructed not by the state PWD but by the Border Roads Organisation.
The development of roads and bridges have remained stalled in the interior regions, possibly because of the Naxal terror, said a senior government official. “The National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) sanctioned Rs 7 crore for constructing 22 kilometers of road between Gangalur and Bijapur about a year ago but only six kilometers have been completed till now,” he said.
None of the 17 police stations in Bijapur have a proper concrete building. They are housed in either barracks or improvised structures, said Inspector-General of Police- Bastar Range R.K. Vij. “We are more disturbed that our men may get killed by extremists while undertaking routine activities like drawing salaries, rations and receiving medical assistance,” the IG said.
Vij further told the Hindustan Times that since the past year, the state has lost 149 policemen of whom 67 were special police officers.
“The police are bearing the brunt for poor development in the core areas dominated by the Naxals and various government departments, particularly the PWD, are callous about implementing development plans despite substantial funds being available with them — and the police end up paying with their lives,” Vij pointed out.
Bijapur is the state’s worst-hit district, with Naxals having claimed as many as 88 police personnel’s lives out of the total of 149 killed in the state since Chhattisgarh was formed.
“Regrettably, the administration could not ensure proper development of the Naxal-affected areas and with deplorable connectivity, the war against them is weakened,” said a senior police official.