Jan. 1: The state government’s move to recruit as homeguards 32 “surrendered” Maoists is being considered risky by the state intelligence branch (IB) as they are not “ideologically fit” for the job.
According to IB sources, none of these rebels, who are expected to receive the appointment letters from chief minister Mamata Banerjee at a rally in Midnapore on January 5, surrendered in the strict sense of the term.
They were picked up by police during raids and persuaded to surrender to encourage other Maoists to join the mainstream.
“These men and women who once fought against the government with sophisticated firearms are not ideologically fit for a job that is closely involved with policing in the three Jungle Mahal districts,” an IB officer said. “Besides, all of them have criminal cases, including murder and waging war against the state, pending against them.”
The IB raised this issue in a number of meetings with senior police officers. “But our message was ignored,” the IB officer said.
According to police sources, 33 Maoists from West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia were shown as “surrendered” in the past two years. Except for one, all have been recruited as homeguards. Suchitra Mahato, a close aide of slain Maoist leader Kishan, has refused to accept the job.
The new recruits will be deployed at police stations in the three Maoist-affected districts. They will be working on a no-work-no-pay basis on a daily wage of Rs 310.
“They will work for 29 consecutive days, following which they will get a day off. But it will be ensured that these recruits get work throughout the year,” the police officer said. Normally, homeguards get work for six months a year.
The IB also told the government that the lives of the 32 Maoists and their families would be at risk. After Kishan’s death in 2010, the Maoists had issued threats saying they would take revenge on the “traitors” who gave up arms and agreed to surrender.
“These homeguards will manage traffic at district town intersections or work in the disaster management group. Targeting them will not be a tough task for the Maoists. The Maoists can also try to use these homeguards as informers by putting pressure on their family members, most of whom live in areas that were once rebel strongholds,” another IB officer said
If the Maoists are successful, getting information on a police station and the movements of forces will become easy,” he added.
Asked about the reason for giving the jobs to the surrendered Maoists, a home department official said: “Surrendered Maoists living in police lines or rehabilitation camps were upset as the government was taking time to fulfil the promise of jobs.”
Work for widows
The state government is recruiting as homeguards the widows of two Trinamul workers killed in police firing in Burdwan’s Raina on December 1, 2010.