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Raipur: Road construction in Sukma, a Maoist hotbed in Chhattisgarh, has unsettled the rebels, leading them to frequently target security personnel in a bid to stop such projects, a state police official.

In the past couple of years, several security personnel posted at road construction sites in Sukma district have been killed in the line of duty. The deadly attack on Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel on March 13 in Sukma is the latest example of Maoists’ attempt to disrupt the road network being laid there. However, despite the heavy loss, the central and state governments have been making efforts to expand the road network in the region, believing that will bring development to tribals there.

Several times, Naxals have tried to disrupt road construction in Sukma by launching attacks on security forces and damaging the roads, and vehicles and machines used in the work, Special Director General (anti-Naxal operations) D M Awasthi told PTI. “The attack on the security personnel on Tuesday between Kistaram and Palodi villages shows their frustration over the government’s plan to build a road there between Kistaram and Chintalnar,” he said.

“However, we will not stop till the target is met,” the officer asserted. Naxals have a strong presence on the 40-km long stretch of the dirt track between Kistaram and Chintalnar villages and they fear the construction of road on the patch will uproot them from the area, Awasthi said. With the support of security forces, the earthwork of five kilometres of the road between Kistaram and Palodi, around 500 km from the state capital, has been completed.

A police camp was set up in Palodi in November last year, and gradually efforts are also being made to set up a new camp next to it in Potakpalli village, ahead of Chintalnar, the official said. He said that Naxals plant improvised explosive devices (IEDs) under the ground at various places to disrupt construction work, which pose serious challenge to security forces.

“However, once the security forces gain control over this patch, it would be easy for them to win the war against Naxals in the entire Bastar region as this forest of Sukma serves as a heaven for Maoists where their military battalion No.1 is active,” he said. Long ago, there was a good road between Kistaram and Chintalnar but Naxals damaged it following their increasing dominance in the area, Awasthi said. On Tuesday, Maoists blew up an anti-landmine vehicle, killing nine CRPF personnel and injuring two others, in the Sukma district.

On April 24 last year, the rebels had ambushed a patrolling team of the CRPF deployed to ensure security to road under construction between Chintagupha and Burkapal in Sukma, killing 25 personnel. In a similar attack, on March 11 last year, 12 CRPF personnel were killed by Naxals in Bhejji area of Sukma when they were providing security to road construction works.

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