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Maoist hotbed in Chhattisgarh's Sukma district passes 'test' of time

Students of Maoist-affected Sukma region write board exams after 14 years

education, students, books, studying, exams

R Krishna Das Raipur

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Infamous for being witness to some of the most devastating and deadly Maoist attacks, Jagargunda, in Chhattisgarh’s restive Sukma district, could conduct the board examinations after over 14 years.

“After nearly 14 years, the district education office received the approval last year to set up examination centres in Jagargunda,” officials said, adding that as many as 16 examination centres were set up in the district for successfully organising the examination conducted by the Chhattisgarh Board of Secondary Education.

Officials said board exams had to be conducted in 14 centres and the information was not revealed for security reasons. Given the success, three new exam centres were created this year. “Now, with the establishment of the new centres, the students need not travel long distances, due to which the extra hassle faced by the students amidst the crucial period of their examination has been greatly reduced,” they added.

The three new examination centres were approved only after deeply analysing the normalcy in the remote areas, the officials said. The three examination centres include Murtonda of Sukma development block, Jagargunda of Konta development block, and Maraiguda, which is a forest village. The officials said 16 children of 10th grade and 26 children of 12th grade appeared to write their exams in the centres of Jagargunda. The number of students who appeared in Maraiguda and Murtonda were not disclosed.

Many academic institutions had to be shifted from the disturbed areas due to Salwa Judum - a movement launched by the villagers against the Maoists in the Southern Bastar region - that continued between 2005 and 2011. Following this, the centres of the board examination were also shifted.

In 2009, the examination centres set up in the Maoist hotbed were relocated to Dornapal, which is another Maoist-infested village but safer than Jagargunda.  Due to the shift, the examinees used to reach Dornapal a month before their examination after traveling a distance of 56 km. The department had made arrangements in the ashram-hostel for the students to stay until the completion of their examinations. Many children who appeared for the tests also stayed in rented houses. The ashram-schools had to be re-shifted from Dornapal to Jagargunda in 2019.

The officials said question papers were sent by helicopter to Jagargunda and other examination centres four days in advance.

Under the instruction of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, initiatives were taken to renew the academic infrastructure as the acts of insurgency posed a hindrance to the dreams of innocent children. A total of 123 schools were closed from the year 2006 to 2010 in Sukma district. Officials said all the 123 schools have been reopened in the district from 2018-19 and 2022-23.

Initially, the schools were operated in makeshift huts built by the villagers. The state government has given approval for concrete school buildings at 80 places, of which, works have been completed at 54 places.

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First Published: Apr 18 2023 | 12:15 AM IST

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