Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Monday said the state government will think over its security strategy, after 25 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed in an ambush by Maoist fighters. “This is a grave matter. Our hearts go out to those martyred. We will rethink our strategies in that area soon. I will sit and have a talk with the heads of the CRPF and the police,” Singh said according to ANI.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader, who was in Delhi for the Niti Aayog governing body meeting, called for an emergency meeting in his state and flew to Raipur soon after the CRPF troops were attacked by insurgents between the villages of Chintagufa and Burkapal in Sukma district. The 74 batallion personnel were guarding workers constructing a road in that stretch when the encounter began.

On arrival at the Raipur airport, Singh told reporters that Naxalites were fighting to save their “last bastion in the country”. “Sukma is Maoists’ headquarters and their last bastion in the country. If roads are built here, they will be wiped out. This is the last battle for them, which is why they are resisting so fiercely,” The Hindu reported.

“We are trying to improve our operations and also bring in development, but this was an unfortunate incident. However, we will continue to push for development in this area, and our jawans are constantly helping us in this endeavour,” the chief minister said, adding that they will “be more cautious from now on”

There are a number of road projects under way in Jharkhand Chhattisgarh and the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border under the “Road Connectivity Project for Left-Wing Extremism Affected Areas”. With this project, 5,400 km of roads and 126 bridges are planned to be built, but contractors work in constant fear of such attacks.

“When contractors undertake road building projects, Naxalites threaten them and contractors flee the area. They don’t want to risk their lives in such situations. So our troops provide security cover to these road-building projects so that development is not hampered,” CRPF’s deputy inspector general (ops) of Dantewada district, Dinesh Pratap Upadhyay, told Mint.

This was the worst Maoist attack on security forces in Chhattisgarh since April 6, 2010, when 76 CRPF soldiers were killed in an encounter in Dantewada district. On March 11 this year, a dozen CRPF soldiers were killed in a strike by Maoist fighters in Sukma. They belonged to the 219 battalion. These troops, too, had been guarding road construction workers.