A major portion of the Bastar region remained cut-off from the entire state for a few hours as Naxals blasted a culvert on NH-30 — the only road linking capital Raipur to Jagdalpur.
The blast took place around 1.30 pm at Baniagaon, about 10 km off Kondagaon, a new district to come into effect from January 1. The incident marked the first-ever instance of Naxals commanding the strategically significant NH. Three major Naxal-affected districts — Bastar, Bijapur and Dantewada — lie beyond the spot.
“The blast was very powerful. It damaged the entire culvert and left a 5X7X12 feet trench. Fortunately there was no traffic at the moment, else it would have led to heavy casualties,” Kondagaon Sub-divisional Officer N P Mishra told The Indian Express.
State Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar admitted that “Naxals have become very powerful and it seems they can do anything”.
The blast marked a strategic victory of sorts for the insurgents as it was the first time they managed to gain control on Raipur-Jagdalpur highway. Intelligence had already established their presence in forests along the highway.
A police force was rushed to the spot for reconstruction. “Traffic has begun, concretised road will be built by tomorrow,” Kanwar said.