Raktima Bose

10 people have fallen prey to Maoist violence in Jangalmahal region in past two weeks

No dearth of information due to the absence of a remuneration, claims the DGP

KOLKATA: Even as 10 persons fell prey to Maoist violence in the Jangalmahal region (forested south-western parts of West Bengal) in the last two weeks for allegedly being police informers, the State Government has no monetary incentive or compensation policy for those who provide crucial information to the police about left wing extremist activity risking their lives.

The local-level intelligence network is, according to the police, a major source of information which they can barely do without.

Even as the State police claim that most of the persons killed and branded ‘informers' by the rebels in the past fortnight were innocent villagers, the fact remains that the handful of police informers in the strife-torn region have to continue with their work in such dire circumstances with no assurance that their families will be provided financial assistance in the event of a fatal accident while on the job.

According to police sources, there are two categories of informers – one which passes on information for money and the other which acts out of personal grievance against the Maoists.

“Officials have their own intelligence networks and the informers are rewarded by the officials. Though most of the time it is monetary reward, few informers with good track records are even referred to for jobs or have their children admitted in good schools. However, all of this happens at a personal level as there is no government policy,” a senior district police official told The Hindu.

The State's DGP, Bhupinder Singh, however, claimed that those who pass on information to the police do it voluntarily and there is no dearth of information due to the absence of a remuneration. “Since it is a voluntary service, there is no need for formulating an incentive system for them. The State Government is not thinking about it as of now.” Though he acknowledged the appointment of special police officers in certain pockets, Mr. Singh refused to disclose their pay-scale or recruitment process. Meanwhile, villagers' disinterest in setting up village defence committees against Maoist activities also reflects the lack of security that the people suffer from.

Police sources form the Paschim Medinipur district admitted that the village defence committee system failed to garner support in the district even after police encouragement and people being given free gun licenses.

The anti-Maoist Gana Pratirodh Committee, backed by the CPI(M), however, enjoys a certain degree of local support even after several of its members were killed by the Maoists.

“Apart form the strong political awareness of the people in the State, the main reason behind the failure is people's lack of trust in police as the latter have to function under certain limitations,” Mr. Singh said.