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regular-article-logo Friday, 12 July 2024

Former KLO militants to act as ‘eyes and ears’ of govt

During the past few years, the Mamata Banerjee government has rehabilitated over 700 such extremists and linkmen by inducting them as home guards

Our Bureau Siliguri Published 11.05.22, 01:36 AM
An state intelligence agency official said that it was over a decade now that activities of the KLO had stopped in the region, but lately there are reports that KLO is trying to regroup and recruit.

An state intelligence agency official said that it was over a decade now that activities of the KLO had stopped in the region, but lately there are reports that KLO is trying to regroup and recruit. Representational picture

The former militants of Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) — a banned terror outfit — many of whom are serving as home guards under the state government, have been asked by the state police and intelligence agencies to keep tabs on their respective localities and gather information about youths who intend to, or have joined the outfit.

During the past few years, the Mamata Banerjee government has rehabilitated over 700 such former militants and linkmen by inducting them as home guards. The process is still in progress.

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An state intelligence agency official said that it was over a decade now that activities of the KLO had stopped in the region, but lately there are reports that KLO is trying to regroup and recruit.

“The information has been substantiated by some recent arrests. As all these former militants and linkmen are from Rajbanshi-dominated belts of north Bengal, they have been asked to act as our eyes and ears and keep tabs on their localities. The idea is to have information if any youth of their area has gone missing and there are chances that he has join the outfit so that necessary steps can be taken,” said the officer.

The plan of engaging former KLO militants as “eyes and ears” can be effective, said a retired police officer who has served in erstwhile KLO “hotbeds” during the Left regime.

“Instead of formal policing, this informal arrangement can be effective to obtain information from rural pockets. Around one-and-a-half decades back, we used to engage such former militants as our eyes and ears during festivities and VIP movements. It was easier for them to locate their former colleagues,” the retired officer said.

In the past three months, three KLO militants have been arrested from different locations of the Siliguri sub-division.

During investigation, the police have found that all three of them are new recruits have reportedly been sent to the region to amass funds for the outfit by extorting money from various “targets”.

The new recruits also have to allegedly try and obtain arms and ammunitions from arms selling rackets which are known to be active in certain areas in neighbouring Bihar.

“Swapan Barman, the KLO militant who was arrested on Sunday, had been carrying around 150 contact numbers. Among these include contact numbers of self-styled KLO leaders, as well as some others. We suspect that he too, was instructed to make calls to people and extort money from them. It was a common practice of the outfit during its initial years to gather funds through extortion and abduction,” said a police officer.

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