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Naxals Torch Bastar's 'Freedom Bus', Villagers Lose Link to Outside World

The bus was set on fire while it was returning to Jagargunda village, the same stretch where Naxals had earlier ambushed a CRPF team and killed 25 personnel last year.

Suhas Munshi | News18.com

Updated:January 13, 2018, 11:40 AM IST
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Naxals Torch Bastar's 'Freedom Bus', Villagers Lose Link to Outside World
The bus service was started on May 2 last year.
New Delhi: In May last year, a bus rolled into a remote village in the jungles of Naxal-affected Bastar in Chhattisgarh. The moment marked the end of a 12-year-long isolation for the villagers, who had been living in isolation. However, on Friday, Naxals burned this sole connection that the villagers had with the outside world.

News18 had reported last year on how the ‘freedom bus’ —a prized target for the Naxals — was changing the lives of its passengers who were mainly former Salwa Judum members.

JUNE 5, 2017 | A BUS TO FREEDOM IN BASTAR

Less than a year since then, the villagers have been thrown back into the seclusion that they tried to come out of, with Naxals torching the bus during its journey on Friday between Jagargunda and Jagdalpur villages.

The bus was set on fire while it was returning to Jagargunda village, the same stretch where Naxals had earlier ambushed a CRPF team and killed 25 personnel last year.

According to sources, the Naxals, armed with sharp-edged weapons and sticks, intercepted the bus around 5pm on Friday, asked all passengers to move out and set the bus on fire.

“We received news of the bus being burnt just a few minutes after it happened. It is nothing but a show of desperation by the Naxals after our successful encounters,” Sukma SP Abhishek Meena said.

Just three days ago, the security forces, in a joint operation in Dantewada grievously injured a top Naxal leader Ganesh VK. VK is believed to have masterminded the deadliest assault on CRPF soldiers in 2010, in which over 70 paramilitary soldiers were killed.

Having set the passenger bus on fire, the Naxals have managed to cut off the only lifeline the villagers had.

More than 50 security personnel, including CRPF soldiers and police officials, have died trying to build a road on this stretch over the past three years.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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