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Mobile phones help fight Maoists in Jharkhand

By Nityanand Shukla, IANS,

Ranchi : Police in Jharkhand are taking on gun-toting Maoists by equipping villagers with mobile phones – and the move is sure helping strengthen the information network against the rebels.

Ever since they started distributing mobile phones free of cost in the West Singhbhum district last month, police say they have received valuable information from villagers about the whereabouts and movements of Maoists.

“The main aim is to distribute mobile sets free of cost to improve the information network in remote rural areas where Maoist rebels operate. The villagers are responding to our initiative in a positive way,” Sudhir Kumar, superintendent of police of West Singhbhum district, told IANS.

Police distribute mobile sets to village heads free of cost. The village head buys the SIM card at his or her own cost and is also free to use the mobile for personal use. They are given the police numbers so they can pass on information about the movement of Maoists.

“Our plan is to distribute at least one mobile set in each village of the district. Till now we have distributed more than 200 mobile sets covering more than 220 villages of the district,” Kumar said.

Encouraged by the response, the state police plan to distribute the phones in other districts also.

“We will not hesitate to bear the monthly expense of the mobiles. The response is encouraging. With the help of villagers we can uproot the Maoist problem in the state,” said a senior official in the Jharkhand police headquarters.

The villagers too are happy with the police move.

“We appreciate the police move. Earlier it was difficult for us to inform police about the movement of Maoists. Police officials react fast on our information,” said Ganesh Hembrom, a village headman.

Maoist rebels are active in 18 of the 24 districts of the state. More than 1,450 people have been killed in Maoist-related violence in the last eight years.

(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at [email protected])