Jamshedpur, Aug. 24: The fear of rebels has led over a dozen police chowkidars to refrain from joining their posts at various panchayats under Ghatshila sub-division of East Singhbhum.
The panchayats functioning without police chowkidars — including those in Ghatshila, Dumaria and Ghorabandha — are in areas considered to be Naxalite strongholds. In the absence of chowkidars, thefts and other crimes have become the norm in these villages.
There are 86 posts of police chowkidars in Ghatshila sub-division.
Of these, 18 posts are in Chakulia block, 13 in Dhalbhumgarh, 27 in Bahra- gora block and 28 in Ghatshila, Dumaria and Ghora- banda blocks.
Kashiabera panchayat under Ghorabandha block has no chowkidar to look after the daily affairs of the villagers. Neither does at Karadoba panchayat under Ghatshila. In their absence people have to cover long distances from their villages to the nearest police stations.
“If villagers are seen visiting police stations repeatedly, they are labelled as police informers. Their life comes under excessive risk,” Sailen Murmu, a resident of Kashiabera said.
In 2003, rebels had killed a chowkidar at Ghorabandha. Ever since, chowkidars have fought the fear of being an easy target for rebels.
East Singhbhum superintendent of police Naveen Kumar Singh, however, claimed that the chowkidars are working in the right spirit and with responsibility.
He admitted that some of the posts had been lying vacant for quite sometime, but the process of filling them is on.
“The police chowki- dars are reporting to the police stations concerned regularly and are also receiving their monthly salary,” said Singh.