Monday, November 30, 2009

Naxals threaten villagers against joining hands with police

The process of selecting special police officers (SPOs) in the Naxal-affected areas of Uttar Pradesh — Sonebhadra, Chandauli and Mirzapur — has slowed down, with the Naxals threatening the villagers to stay away from the police.

Recently, Naxal commander Kamlesh Chaudhary had been killed allegedly in a police encounter.

A senior official at the DGP Headquarters said that the superintendents of police in the affected areas have been told to personally select the SPOs, maintain personal contact with them, and keep their identity secret from lower rank officers.

Sonebhadra SP Preetinder Singh, while admitting that Naxals are threatening villagers, said those who get scared by the threats could not, in any case, serve as SPOs. “Our work is going on. We are not forcing anybody to become SPOs,” he said.

The Anti-Naxal Wing of the police in affected districts and the station officers (SOs) were given the task of selecting about 200 SPOs to help the police. The process began about a month ago, and many locals had volunteered initially. But, now they are asking for security cover, sources said.

Sources said the Naxals are using a subtle method to convey the threats. They are not communicating with the villagers themselves, but their sympathisers are spreading the word that the Naxals will settle the score for Chaudhary’s killing by targeting policemen and those who work for the police.

The appointment of SPOs is a part of a Central scheme to keep a close watch on activities and movement of Naxal groups with the help of local people. Each SPO will get a stipend of Rs 1,500 per month, and the money will be paid by the Centre.

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