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Chhattisgarh: CRPF personnel open doors of Ram Mandir locked up by Naxals 21 years ago

Sukma: Just like devotees waited for the construction of Ramjanmabhoomi Mandir at Ayodhya for around 500 years, a village in Chattisgarh's insurgency-hit Sukma district waited for 21 years to open the doors of Lord Ram's temple till a camp of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was established.
After the establishment of CRPF's 74th battalion camp, security forces have reopened the temple in Keralapenda village, that was shut down 21 years ago following the threat issued by Naxals.
The doors of the Ram Mandir was closed in 2003 following the threat issued by Naxals, near village Lakhapal and Kerlapenda.
As per information received from villagers, the temple was built by Bihari Maharaj in 1970 and villagers covering a distance of around 80 kilometres on foot to bring the materials required for construction.
During the time of the temple's construction, the region lacked road connectivity as well as adequate facilities for transport. Villagers brought construction materials by covering the distance on foot guided by their devotion to Lord Ram.
According to locals, after the establishment of the temple, several among them gave up the consumption of meat and liquor (including Mahua alcohol).
As people in the village kept themselves away from violence due to their religious beliefs and habits, naxals prohibited worship in the temple around 2003 as they lacked support from the village.
Villagers also recalled that a grand fair was conducted at the village and it used to mark the participation of devotees from adjacent areas as well as seers from Ayodhya. As the naxal menace rose, worship in the temple stopped and the fair ceased to exist. Eventually, the naxals locked up the temple's doors.
After a CRPF camp was set up near the village, security personnel opened the temple's door to win their confidence and bring them to the mainstream.
Officials and troopers, along with villagers, carried out cleanliness exercises around the temple and opened the doors of the temple. Worship of the deities was followed by the performance of all rituals and traditions.
Impressed by the work of CRPF officials and personnel, villages extended gratitude to them for opening the temple.
"On March 14, 2023, Lakhapal camp of CRPF was opened and during area domination, they spotted an old temple in dilapidated condition at village Kerlapenda," the Commandant of 74th battalion, Himanshu Pandey said adding that on enquiring, security personnel learnt about the glorious past of the locked temple.
"The village also informed that Naxals had caused damage to the temple and locked it in 2003", he added, citing the inputs collected from villagers.
However, one family kept on offering worship secretly, the Commandant said.
Pandey further said that the establishment of the camp created excitement among villagers and they requested the security personnel for the renovation of the temple.
"Considering the request of villagers, security personnel carried out cleanliness at the temple and handed it over to them. Routine worship and performing of rituals by villagers started in the temple. Recently, a group of women and children performed worship at the temple during evening hours. With the opening of the temple, spreading positivity in the village and linking them with development will be our effort," Pandey said.

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