BIJAPUR, India — Schools in the Naxal-dominated villages of Bijapur district in Chattisgarh have opened after 16 years of efforts and informed the district administration.

“Naxals destroyed many schools in last 15-16 years. 116 schools will be opened in 2021, benefitting over 2,800 children. The children from Pedda Jojer, Chinna Jojer, and Kamkanar villages of Bijapur block can get an education now,” said Ritesh Agarwal, the District Collector of Bijapur, to the local media.

The District Collector further informed that the administration faced obstruction from Naxals during the construction of roads as many security personnel was killed in the process.

“The most difficult part is to establish a conversation with the villagers. The government decided to create a network so that students should get the right to education. Nine hundred students are enrolled today in 14 schools in a block,” said Zakir Khan, Block Education Officer (BEO).

“We knew only the Gondi language earlier, but we can speak Hindi now. Teachers are coming every day. The school administration provides us with books and school dress,” Neha, a student, said to the local media.

Teachers have to wade through a river to reach the school every day. Despite all odd, students informed that the teachers had not missed a single class.

“In 2004, 2005 after the rise of Salwa Judum against Maoists in Bastar, Naxalites targeted school buildings in the interior areas of Bijapur, Dantewada, Sukma, Narayanpur. During this conflict, more than 300 schools were destroyed in Bijapur. These include Pedda Jojer, Chinna Jojer, Kamkanar villages, where the Maoists targeted schools,” said Khan.

Salwa Judum was a militia mobilized and deployed as part of anti-insurgency operations in Chhattisgarh, India, to counter Naxalite violence in the region. The militia, consisting of local tribal youth, received support and training from the Chhattisgarh state government.

After 30 years, on Aug. 10, the Naxal-dominated Tarrem village of Bijapur received electricity, its primary health center (PHC), a school, electricity connection, roads, and other civic facilities. Residents of Tarrem village, over 500 kilometers (310 miles) away from the capital city Raipur, were deprived of basic facilities as the region became a victim of Naxal violence after 1980. It now has primary healthcare, Anganwadi centers, a ration shop, and roads.

Many villagers had to migrate from their native places due to violence created by Naxals.

On April 3, 2021, as many as 22 soldiers were killed, and 31 sustained injuries in the encounter with Naxals in the forest of Tekulagudem and Jonaguda, which is only 10-12 kilometers (6-7 miles) from Tarrem village.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra



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