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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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CIMA Gallary

Hill village police on GLP turf

Darjeeling, Jan. 2: The state government today recruited 125 village police volunteers in the hills, a move that may curtail the influence of the Gorkhaland Personnel in rural areas here.

Of the 125 recruits, 55 would undergo a month-long training from tomorrow.

Some recruits have expressed doubts about security in the face of political trouble. They did not mention the GLP, though.

Kunal Aggarwal, the superintendent of police, Darjeeling, said: “The village policemen would start the month-long training from tomorrow. They are being recruited on contract for a year.” The rest would start training soon.

Each village police volunteer would be paid a daily allowance of Rs 310 for 22 days a month and be given a uniform —sky blue shirt, navy blue pants, belt and a cap with a logo along with black boots.

The 125 candidates were shortlisted after a physical fitness test and an interview.

The recruitment process started two months back and is part of a statewide exercise.

The village police cadres would be posted in each of the gram panchayats in the hills. The main task of the force would be to gather local level intelligence.

“The idea behind the village squads is to keep an eye on movement inside the villages that cannot always be accessed by the police. They can act as good sources of human intelligence,” said an intelligence officer.

According to the police officers, their job would largely be to act as informers for the police stations in their areas.

“They will be the eyes and the ears of the police force as many areas are not easily accessible,” said an officer.

Police sources said the squad could also act as a bridge between the villagers and the police.

The minimum educational qualification of a village policeman is Class X and the members have to be between 22 and 30 years.

All the 125 recruits are men.

The village police may curtail the influence of the Gorkaland Personnel, a lathi-wielding force that was raised by the Morcha. The GLP cadres are known for taking up policing roles such as apprehending cars carrying illicit liquor and smuggled goods to the region.

During an interaction with police officers in Darjeeling today, many new recruits expressed their concern about security.

“The political situation in the hills is not always healthy. We might face a number of problems given the nature of our role. What are the security arrangements for us?” asked a new recruit.

A police officer present at the session said: “You need not fear. The police will always be behind you. So far, no police personnel have been attacked while discharging their duties and we will ensure that such an incident never happens in the hills.”

No GLP cadre has been recruited as a village policeman.

Many GLP youths have been inducted in various departments of the GTA and the Morcha has also demanded the absorption of GLP volunteers in the police and paramilitary forces.

The hill party has raised with the state and the Centre the issue several times in the past.

Although, the exact number of GLP youths is not known, it is estimated that the Morcha had recruited anything between 2,000 and 3,000 youths in 2008.