Security with development

New police stations in Chhattisgarh's vulnerable areas have

turned the tables against the Maoists

Security and development are the two buzz words used in reference to the Maoist-affected areas. Experience shows the two-pronged strategy of combating Maoism and ameliorating the condition of tribals cannot be implemented throughout in a straitjacketed manner. Whereas development works can be pushed into action almost immediately after the security set-up is established in the moderately affected areas, the same cannot be replicated in the severely affected areas known as "liberated zones" — it is hard to get vendors to take up work in these Maoist base areas. The fear of life and property looms large. It is therefore wise to flood vulnerable areas with development programmes while the problem is in its nascent stage.

Shobha, a small village of nearly 1,000 people, in Gariyaband district of Chhattisgarh, was one of the many villages frequented by Maoists two years ago. Characterised by irregular electricity supply and the absence of culverts on interior routes, development projects had almost come to a halt in the district due to the rise in Maoist activities. Taking a proactive stance, Gariyaband was separated from Raipur and notified as a new district by the government so that the Maoist expansionist strategy could be checked. This paved the way for new police stations (PS) and security camps. The first PS, "Shobha", was set up in August 2011. Its establishment was celebrated by the villagers with much enthusiasm, as if they were waiting for that moment to get rid of the Maoists. Life gradually took a U-turn. The villagers were no

longer forced to feed Maoists and bear their torture. They don't have to attend Maoist meetings now. Maoist road blockades suddenly disappeared. But the real change in villagers' lives was seen when the police superintendent of Gariyaband, a young IPS officer named Ram Gopal Garg, made a herculean effort to bring electricity and ultimately succeeded.

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