With a large map of the district on his office wall, a senior police officer posted here, pointed to four red pointers. “These are infiltration routes and here is where the great wall of Gadchiroli needs to be erected if we are to crush this menace,” he said. From north to south, the four western tehsils in the troubled district also share borders with Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur and Dantwewada districts. Intelligence reports say an unspecified number of cadres of the Communist Party of India (CPI) Maoist have entered Gadchiroli using these routes recently. Ominous signs.
Though on the backfoot following a spate of losses and surrenders,
Maoists retain the initiative owing to their strategy of hit and run.
Police data also points to this urgency. ‘Joint Patrolling operations’
are undertaken when paramilitary forces and police from the bordering states are roped in for coordinated operations. The frequency has shot up. From six operations between January and July, 79 have been conducted in the last two months. The police is actively pursuing whatever leads it can get on the movement of the Maoists. It has also got additional manpower in the form of paramilitary forces, specifically for the elections. “We had nearly 70 per cent polling in the Lok Sabha polls held on April 10 and we hope to improve the count further,” said Collector Gadchiroli Ranjeet Kumar.
Pulapaka Elkurthy and Samakka Gangula live near Ankisa village at the southernmost tip of Gadchiroli. A decade ago, both their sons were killed by the police in an encounter. Speaking in Telugu, Pulapaka said, “My son had gone to the forest to pick up medicinal herbs for our cattle. He never came back. Days later the police showed us his body. Because I was too shocked I did not want to even see the body.”
As a result she does not even have her son’s death certificate.
Nobody, says Samakka, has helped them. “There are many like us here. We too are victims. Some help from the government is all we want,” she said.
Meanwhile, the candidates, while going to the people, did not even
mention the insurgency, far less talk about ways to tackle or help
people like Pulapaka and Samakka. Political activity for the three seats, all reserved Scheduled Tribe (ST) seats, is still largely taking place along the roads. Most are talking about issues like job creation, irrigation and statehood for Vidarbha. Three time minister and NCP candidate from Aheri, Dharamraobaba Atram admitted to this situation, “We are talking about getting jobs and
industries here, if that happens it will automatically solve the
problem.” His nephew who is contesting on a BJP ticket, Ambrishrao
Atram said, “People have to live here. They are already sandwiched
between the police and them.” When visited, partymen in offices of BJP and Shiv Sena spoke about everything but the insurgency. “This is a problem of the centre. We shall see,” is what a BJP office bearer
said. Gadchiroli SP Sandeep Patil said, “They can be targeted since they are directly challenging the Maoists who oppose elections.”
Violence level in Gadchiroli-Gondia region
Year Security Personnel Killed Civilians Killed Maoists killed Ambushes by Maoists IEDs exploded
2009 52 41 07 2276 01
2010 10 34 02 1081 04
2011 08 40 05 1129 04
2012 14 25 04 1884 03
2013 06 09 26 1029 07
2014 (Till Sep 30) 11 08 13 597 06
BOX – Gadchiroli in numbers
• 893 polling stations
• 4500 polling staff
• Seats – Gadchiroli, Aheri and Armori
• Total voters – 7,31,105