RAIPUR: While development remains a challenge in the hunting grounds of outlawed Maoists in Chhattisgarh, 30 women police commandos were engaged to provide security cover to a bridge, which was damaged in 2006 by Maoists in Bijapur district, about 370 km south of Raipur.
Coming out of the usually assigned roles of office work and traffic management in the conflict zone, the women were gradually deployed into field work on a trial basis. They provided security for the construction of the bridge in Bijapur—one among the seven worst Maoist-affected districts in the war zone of Bastar. The work started by the end of August and was completed in two weeks.
Ever since the bridge was damaged, over 3,000 inhabitants of the hamlets in Tindori, Daler, Viriabhoomi, Aadwada and others were deprived of health, education and other essential services due to non-availability of all-weather roads from their villages to the block headquarters of Bhairamgarh. The Bijapur district administration had repeatedly witnessed the plight of hapless villagers, who longed for proper road connectivity that passes through the bridge, which is 48 km from the district headquarters and about 8 km from Bhairamgarh.
The women commandos guarded the bridge 24x7. They camped in a nearby village and also guarded a 6 km stretch of road during the construction that lasted for 15 days, braving rough weather conditions.
“Along with the roads being repaired, they got the bridge constructed in just two weeks,” said P Sunderraj, Bastar Deputy Inspector General of Police.
With this, the women commandos are steadily getting into formal and offensive operations. Interestingly, some of these personnel are surrendered Maoists, who were given rigorous training and equipped with modern weapons.
Chhattisgarh Police does not project the bridge as they claim it is for the benefit of the villagers.
“The bridge will now improve our lives, providing better access to health care, education and economic opportunities,” said Manglu Mandawi, Tindori village headman.
According to police, the achievement will indirectly strengthen security in the Naxal-affected areas since people are seen as the major strength in combating the Red brigade. “We are committed to bringing peace and prosperity in the region,” said Vivekanand Sinha, Bastar Zone Inspector General.
Security forces often get into diversified roles to strategically pursue a three-pronged strategy in the conflict zone—offensive operations, facilitating development and winning the hearts and minds of the population.