They put their lives at risk in the line of duty, fought in the most challenging terrain and got their target. But most are yet to get even a penny of what was promised to them by way of cash rewards.
Many state governments had announced a price on the heads of top Maoist leaders. Take, for instance, the prize catch of them all: Koteswar Rao, alias Kishenji, the CPI(Maoist) politburo member who was gunned down on November 24, 2011, in the jungles of West Midnapore. Kishenji carried a total of Rs. 31 lakh on his head, to be paid by the governments of Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. It’s now been more than 10 months since Kishenji was killed by the security forces and not a rupee has changed hands.
There are other state governments that have not kept their word. Bihar and Jharkhand also announced cash rewards for the capture of Maoist leaders Musafir Sahani and Chandrabhusan Yadav, both of whom were arrested in Bengal. But no money has been disbursed yet.
“There are great personal risks involved when we keep shadowing senior Maoist leaders and ultimately nab them. It’s unfortunate that no government, or senior officials, find time to follow up with the respective state governments to fulfil their promise of coughing up the cash,” a criminal investigation department (CID) officer involved in the arrest of Jharkhand Maoist leader Chandrabhushan Yadav told HT.
Senior police officials admit the lapse. “So far as I remember, no cash reward has yet been given for these successes,” Gangeswar Singh, inspector-general of police (Western Range), told HT on Tuesday.
“Kishenji was not our only success. We also arrested Musafir Sahani and Chandrabhusan Yadav in 2010 and 2009, respectively. But none of the men involved in the successful operation got a single penny,” an officer of the special task force (STF) of Kolkata Police said.
Sahanai was arrested in a joint operation by the STF of Kolkata Police and Bihar police from Subodh Mullick Square on August 20, 2010. And Yadav was picked up by sleuths of the STF and intelligence officers from Jharkhand. He was nabbed from Bandel in Hooghly district on October 2, 2009. The Bihar government had announced Rs. 3 lakh for Sahani, while the Jharkhand government pledged a reward of Rs. 7 lakh for Chandrabhusan Yadav’s arrest. No money has reached the brave officers who took part in the operations.
Senior officers of the STF recall another case where their men were deprived of cash awards. On December 4, 2010, STF personnel picked up Sudeep Chongder, alias Kanchan, from the Maidan police station area. Kanchan was the state secretary of the CPI(Maoist). Along with Kanchan, the STF also arrested Akhil Chandra Ghosh (alias Ajay), Arun Sur (alias Bidyut) and Kalpana Maiti (alias Anu) and the wife of Akash, the present Bengal secretary of the CPI(Maoist). A cache of electronic devices and ammunition were recovered from them.
“Kanchan was also carrying a cash reward on his head, but I can’t recall the amount,” Rajeev Kumar, former chief of the STF and now commissioner of Bidhannagar police commissionarate, told HT.
In August this year, two CRPF jawans were awarded the highest peacetime gallantry medal, the Shaurya Chakra, for taking part in the operation in which the Kishenji was killed on November 24, 2011.
“I wrote to the Bengal government to take the initiative so that the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Chattishgarh pay up the money,” Vivek Sahay, inspector-general of CRPF said.