A jawan keeps watch during construction of Jhumra-Rahwan road in Bokaro last week. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Call it a parting gift from former Bokaro superintendent of police Kuldip Dwivedi.
The crucial 14km link between Maoist bastion Jhumra and Rahwan will be inaugurated in February, thanks to the senior police officer who ensured round-the-clock security at the construction site to speed up the project — a long-pending demand of the local residents.
“Though Aurangabad-based contractor Sanjay Singh had sought time till 2014-end for completion of the Rs 19-crore project, he promised that if the administration provided his men round-the-clock security, the road would come up in record time. We provided the labourers security cover and Singh kept his words,” Dwivedi, who has been made the commandment of JAP-1 in Ranchi, had told The Telegraph before his transfer.
The 14km road will not only link Jhumra with Rahwan but also connect villages like Jataiyya, Taand, Biyahi, Mahua, Pannatand and Jamnijara to the towns.
A distant dream of thousands of people living in more than two dozen villages in Jhumra zone, it was a Bokaro vegetable seller’s plea to Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh that gave a concrete shape to the road.
Chinta Devi (39) had raised the matter with the Union rural development minister when he visited the rebel-hit area on March 24, 2013. “Roadwa jaldi se bana do — bada dikkat hota hain (Please build the road fast, we face a lot of problems),” Chinta had told Ramesh, explaining her daily 28km trek down the Jhumra hill to Rahwan and back up.
A subsequent rap from the Union minister was enough to make the Bokaro district administration sit up and take notice of the slo-mo project.
Along with CRPF and Jharkhand Jaguar personnel, the administration provided security cover to the labourers and ensured that all the hurdles posed by Maoists were negotiated with ease.
So what was a bumpy and painful trek for Chinta will now turn into a 20-minute ride on a cycle.
The road will boost security in the area too.
“As the newly laid Rahawan-Jhumra Road is over nine-inches thick and 20-feet wide, placing explosives below it will be a tough job for the rebels. It can be detected from a considerable distance,” the former SP said.
He hailed his jawans for encouraging the labourers to carry on their work without any fear.
CRPF deputy commandant Sadan Kumar also praised his men.
“The stretch from Rahwan till Pachmo village could be constructed without any hassle. But to reach Jhumra village, the road had to pass through the forest areas of Jataiyya, Tand, Biyahi, Mahua, Pannatand and Jamnijara, which have a huge presence of Maoists. Our jawans from the 26th battalion were on continuous vigil as the labourers worked,” Kumar added.
Sources said that as villagers had been warned by the Maoists not to help security forces in the ongoing project, the rural population did not co-operate openly with the construction agency though they also wanted the road to come up.
A fact that came to the fore when 65-year-old Ramchandra Mahto of Jamnijara village said: “From the core of my heart, all wanted was construction of this road.”
One of Dwivedi’s major achievements during his stint in Bokaro was the busting of Naxalite network. Under his leadership, Bokaro police arrested over 14 hardcore rebels, including Navin Majhi, Varun Majhi and S.K. Mahto, besides killing several in encounters. The young IPS officer even drew praise from Union minister Ramesh and DGP Rajiv Kumar, who even spent a night at Jhumra.
Dwivedi also succeeded in hunting out coal mafia Mohammad iIliyas Chowdhury, who was mentioned as dead in police records, and arresting him.