The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has been reaching out to remote villages in Chhattisgarh's Maoist-hit Bastar region under the 'Har Ghar Tiranga' campaign and distributing the national flags.
CRPF officials said they have also covered those villages where the national flag had never been hoisted since Independence due to various reasons including the Maoist threat.
Security personnel have not only told villagers to hoist the tricolour in their houses but also made them aware of the importance of Independence day. The move is also helping security forces to improve relations with locals living in the shadow
Thirty-eight battalions of CRPF, the largest paramilitary force, are deployed in Chhattisgarh, extensively in Bastar, for counter-insurgency operations. One battalion comprises around 1,000 personnel.
"As many as one lakh national flags have been distributed by CRPF personnel in interior villages of Dantewada, Bijapur, Bastar and Sukma districts in the last one week," Inspector General (CRPF), Chhattisgarh sector, Saket Kumar Singh told PTI on Saturday.
The CRPF, which remains stationed in Bastar for more than a decade to fight the Maoist menace, aims to connect tribals of remote villages with the celebrations to mark the 75th year of Independence, he added.
The drive to distribute national flags as a part of the 'Har Ghar Tiranga' campaign was launched early this week and it will be concluded on Saturday, he said.
Mostly those villages were covered which fall within a radius of 7-8 km around security camps and police stations. As there are several camps situated in south Bastar, a large number of villages have been covered there, Singh added.
“In some villages where the tricolour had never been hoisted, villagers were amazed to see the national flag. Their response was superb as they not only received flags with warmth but also listened patiently to security forces when they explained to them the importance of I-Day and the national flag”, the IG said.
According to police officials, the outlawed CPI-Maoist usually gives the call to boycott Independence and Republic Day celebrations in the interiors of Bastar and unfurls red and black flags to register protest on these two occasions.
However, compared to previous years, the incidents of black flags being hoisted by Maoists have come down to a great extent in interior pockets, they said.
Inspector General of Police (Bastar Range) Sundarraj P told PTI that police have planned to hoist the tricolour on August 15 in places like Elmagunda and Potakpalli (Sukma district), Chandameta (Bastar), Hiroli (Dantewada), Kuemari (Kondagaon) and Arra (Kanker) where flag hoisting was never done in the past.
“The establishment of 43 new camps in the last three years in Maoist strongholds like Minapa, Galgam, Silger, Potali, Karrigundam, Kademetta, Padargaon, Pungarpal etc. has pushed Naxalites on the back foot. It (the increased presence of security personnel) also brought down the incidents of black flag hoisting by Naxalites to almost nil. In these places the tricolour will be hoisted with zeal and patriotism,” said the Bastar IG.
(Inputs from PTI)