The police force of Chhattisgarh was on Wednesday forced to rescind an order to the family of a policeman killed by rebels to return Rs 10,000 provided to perform his last rites after the move triggered widespread outrage and condemnation
Following the strong reactions, the state police cancelled two notices served to Constable Kishore Pandey’s family and suspended a low-ranking official.
Pandey was killed in a gun battle with Maoists in May 2011 at Gariaband, 90 km from state capital Raipur. As his family was not economically well-off, immediate assistance of Rs 10,000 was provided to Pandey’s relatives from a non-public fund by police in Gariaband district.
The first notice asking the family to return the amount was issued in June last year and the second was served on April 12.
Efforts by police to recover the money triggered an uproar after several TV news channels reported the matter. The opposition Congress described it as an insult to the martyred policeman.
RK Vij, the additional director general of police in-charge of operations against Maoists, said a reserve inspector was suspended and a superintendent of police was served a show cause notice in connection with the notices sent to Pandey’s family.
“This is not a respectable thing to do. The family should be treated with honour,” Vij told Hindustan Times.
"The reserve inspector has been suspended. We have told all district police chiefs that such incidents should not be repeated," he said.
“We all respect the martyrs, there is no need to return the money,” Vij added.
Earlier, officials sought to downplay the matter, saying the aid was of a temporary nature and had to be returned.
“The amount given to the family was part of a welfare fund created by the district police personnel who annually contribute to it as per their ranks. The objective is to immediately offer money during a crisis and emergency. The amount has to be returned later,” Abhishek Pathak, Gariaband’s superintendent of police, told Hindustan Times.
Pathak said the issue had been pending since 2011 as Pandey’s mother been given financial aid worth Rs 5 lakh by the state government.
Police officials even said they believed nothing wrong had been done by serving the notices since the amount given to Pandey’s family was actually the contribution of police personnel.
Since 2011, Chhattisgarh has registered the highest casualties in operations against Maoists. A total of 235 security forces personnel have died in the state fighting rebels.