Maoist top gun Kishenji roamed rural Jangalmahal and kept West Bengal Police on their toes when alive, in death he is giving city cops the jitters - turning the protectors into prisoners inside their own police stations every night.
Fearing retribution from rebels for Kishenji's death in an encounter on November 24, doors of police stations in Kolkata are being bolted from within by 11.30pm and opened not before 6.30am.
"We have received intelligence inputs that the Maoists, in retaliation to Kishenji's death, will try to carry out strikes on police forces in and around Kolkata. So, all our units must be on full alert. We have to be extra careful in the present situation," Shibaji Ghosh, special commissioner of Kolkata Police, told HT on Wednesday.
This lockdown has become a standard operating procedure (SOP) and police personnel, while resting inside their barracks at police stations at night, are being asked to carry their firearms to bed.
The top brass of Kolkata Police have alerted all the units, especially the 65 police stations in the city, and overhauled the SOP.
The confinement of the city police forces is reminiscent of the situation at Lalgarh police station in the first six months of 2009 when a Maoist-backed uprising raged in the region. The main gate of the police station had to be locked, virtually making prisoners of the police contingent. The gates were opened and the police personnel freed only after Centre-state combined forces launched an operation to restore peace.
During the seven-hour lockdowns in city police stations now, the sentries at the gates are going inside the police stations at night, leaving their posts empty. Sentry posts at most police stations are adjacent to the road and are, therefore, considered vulnerable.
People approaching police stations during lockdown are being allowed in after careful scrutiny. If someone is in police uniform, or if a person in civvies claims to be a police staff, he or she is allowed in only after uttering a code word.