Bhopal: The village of Chikpal, a Naxal stronghold in Chhattisgarh’s south Bastar district of Dantewada, on Tuesday witnessed hoisting of the national flag for the first time since Independence. Dantewada district superintendent of police Abhishek Pallav unfurled the tricolour in the presence of around 2,000 villagers to celebrate the 72nd Republic Day.
"Naxals used to hoist red and black flags in the village for decades. This is the first time since Independence that the people in the village celebrated the Republic Day by hoisting the national flag," Mr Pallav told this newspaper.
This is a significant development as the village was not just considered a Naxal stronghold but is also strategically important for Maoists as it has till now been used as a passage by ultras for their movement from Odisha to Chhattisgarh without being challenged by security forces.
"The presence of around 2,000 villagers on the occasion has sent a message to the Naxals that one of their key strongholds has been breached by the security forces," Mr Pallav said.
The area falls under the jurisdiction of Katekalyan area committee, considered one of most dangerous formations of outlawed CPI (Maoist).
Twenty-four Maoists, three of them carrying a bounty of Rs 1 lakh each, surrendered before the police on the occasion. "Surrender of such a large number of Maoists in a Naxal stronghold area of Chikpal is a huge setback for Maoists," a senior police officer of Bastar said.