RAIPUR: They are trained to supervise law and order operations and counter insurgency, but the CRPF personnel, in a novel initiative, are helping farmers in ploughing their fields through tractors to win the hearts of tribals in Chhattisgarh's worst Naxal-hit Sukma district.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the biggest force fighting Naxalism in various parts of the country, last month launched a unique programme to help tribals in ploughing their fields with the help of tractors, ahead of the crop sowing in Sukma district of South Bastar region.
"The initiative was taken up not only to improve relations between the security forces and locals, but also to support the poor tribals in farming who often do not get good crop productivity due to lack of modern and efficient agricultural equipment," a senior CRPF official told PTI.
In farming, ploughing is done for initial cultivation of soil in preparation of sowing seeds or planting saplings.
The idea was introduced by CRPF's II battalion led by commandant VVN Prasanna in two-three villages for sowing paddy crops and it received a huge response, he said.
The CRPF personnel themselves ploughed at least 100 acres land through tractors in Misma village on Sukma-Dornapal road during the current kharif crop season, he said.
They also helped in ploughing some fields in the remote Injram and Bhejji villages of the region, he said.
Initially, the farmers were hesitant in taking assistance from paramilitary forces, but gradually they were persuaded when informed about how tractors can be more fruitful for them in yielding more production, he said.
"We have started the work on demand basis. Since the demand was high in Misma village, we covered only one acre of land from each family there," the CRPF official said.
"Similarly, demands were received from other villages, but due to shortage of time as monsoon has arrived, we could not made it possible," he said adding that in the next crop season it would be done on a large scale. As a part of the programme, the farmers were also being educated about the modern agriculture practices to increase crop production.
Security is an important aspect while carrying out such activities in restive villages. Hence, the jawans are directed to maintain proper surveillance and security cover before undertaking the task, he said.
Hailing the CRPF's initiative, a Raipur-based defence expert said more such efforts are needed to change the "oppressor" image of security forces in Maoist-hit areas and win the war against the banned CPI (Maoist).
"Sukma is considered a strong base of extremists where they not only have their military battalions, but also rule the hearts of people. It is necessary for security forces to strike a chord with locals to gain their confidence," Professor Girish Kant Pandey, Head, Department of Defence Studies in Government Science College, here said.
"It will also help the paramilitary forces to change their oppressor image among tribals," he added.