78 cyclists from across globe pedal through Bastar district.
Bhopal: Seventy eight cyclists from India and abroad pedalled along scenic routes passing through the “red zone” of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district to visit picturesque waterfalls doting in the area, opening, for the first time, the conflict region to “insurgency tourism”.
The two-day cycle expedition by the 78 tourists, including citizens of US, Switzerland and Germany as well as youths from different parts of India, was sponsored by Chhattisgarh tourism department.
The event came to end on Monday.
“It was organised under the ‘Tour De Chhattisgarh’ programme to remove misconception about Bastar, known to outside world for Naxal violence. We want to tell the world that it is safe to visit picturesque Bastar at any point of time without any fear,” deputy inspector general of police (south Bastar) P. Sunderraj told this newspaper on phone on Tuesday.
The cyclists had pedalled along the route passing through difficult terrains and dense jungles in Darbha area, which was witness to the Naxal attack of 2013 in which 28 Congress leaders of Chhattisgarh and four security personnel were massacred by Maoists at Jiram Ghati, during their cycle journey.
The tourists had visited famed Chitrakoot and Tirathgarh waterfalls and Kotumsar cave in Bastar district.
Naxals had blown up a police outpost set up at Chitrakoot waterfall in 2011. “The cyclists were briefed on the incidents of Naxal violence witnessed in the region before we began the journey”, Mr Sunderraj who led the cycle expedition said.
“We are planning four such programmes in near future to open up south Bastar districts of Dantewada and Bijapur for tourists,” he added.