Friday, July 8, 2011

SC called it illegal, but Bihar Police is recruiting villagers

July 9, 2011, Patna: The Supreme Court may have termed arming of villagers and tribals against Naxals as illegal, but the Bihar government has gone ahead and decided to recruit hundreds of villagers as Special Police Officers to intensify fight against naxalites.

Bihar DGP Neelmani has said that the state police will recruit 6,900 SPOs on a monthly remuneration of Rs 4000 from villages where Maoists enjoy support or have been identified as Maoist stronghold.

At present there are about 1,200 SPOs on police rolls in Maoist-hit districts like Jamui, Banka and Munger.

"All SPOs are working under the direct supervision of the district Superintendent of Police, but there is no plan to arm them," Neelmani said.

Senior police officials told on condition of anonymity that after Maoist's recent stepped-up activities started giving sleepless night to state administration, the police as a part of a strategy started recruiting villagers as informers in all 31 Maoist-hit districts.

Just days ago, the Supreme Court had directed Chhattisgarh to stop recruiting tribals as SPOs. The court also slammed the Chhattisgarh government for using tribals as SPOs in its Salwa Judum counter-insurgency operation against the Maoists. It also asked the central government to ensure that its finances are not used for funding SPOs.

However, Bihar Police officials say that the strategy has clicked, as the SPOs have passed lot of vital information to the police leading to the arrest of top Maoist leaders.

After Maoists killed six villagers in Munger district last week, DGP Neelmani disclosed that two SPOs -- appointed by police to work as police informer in Maoist-affected area -- were among those dead.

It was for the first time that the Bihar Police admitted that SPOs had been working in Bihar to check Maoists activities, on the line of other Naxal-affected states.

Police sources say that the killing of police informers or SPOs by the Maoists is proof that the latter are feeling the heat of the revamped police intelligence network. It is a positive sign, but the police will try to ensure protection to the SPOs.

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