Transit route makes Gadchiroli vulnerable

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Charred vehicles which were allegedly torched by Maoists at Kurkheda town in Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra on Wednesday. PTI

Dotted with hills, thick forest cover and rivers, Gadchiroli district remains vulnerable to Naxalism.

Maoist leaders and cadres have been using Gadchiroli as a transit route to cross over from Chhattisgarh to Telangana and vice versa.

In April last year, when the Maharashtra police gunned down 40 Maoists in the district, it appeared that the problem in the remotest district of the state would end, but in the last four months, there had been several incidents which show that they are trying to revive again. 

READ: 15 cops, civilian killed in Naxal attack in Gadchiroli

“They are regrouping. They killed police informers, burnt vehicles, gave a call to boycott elections, tried to disrupt the polls and now, this big attack. They are clearly trying to raise their head again,” a senior Maharashtra police officer told DH.

This district of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra is part of the Red Corridor that experiences considerable Naxalite-Maoist insurgency.

Naxalites from the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army have taken shelter in the dense forests and hills. Left-wing extremism has taken its toll on the remote district that borders Chandrapur and Gondia in the Vidarbha region.

Police said that Maoists had been intimidating the locals.

According to the 2011 census, Gadchiroli district has a population of 10,71,795  of which the majority are tribals. Seven languages are spoken here: Gondi, Madiya, Marathi, Hindi, Telugu, Bengali, and Chhattisgarhi.

Location-wise, Gadchiroli district is situated in the south-eastern corner of Maharashtra and has Chandrapur district to the west, Gondia district to the north, Chhattisgarh state to the east, and Telangana to the south and south-west. Gadchiroli was created on August 26, 1982, by the separation of Gadchiroli and Sironcha tehsils from Chandrapur district.

For the Gadchiroli Police, the Anti-Naxalite Operations (ANO) and the State Intelligence Department (SID) is a major challenge.

In the district, there is also the presence of the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (COBRA) of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which works with the ANO. In the last three decades, there had been several big attacks on police and security personnel in which over 150 people died.

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