KOLKATA: The Centre is keen on taking a leaf out of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s book to curb the Maoist threat. The ministry of home affairs is exploring the possibility of recruiting tribal youths from Maoist-dominated areas for paramilitary forces, just as Bengal has done.
Soon after taking over as CM in May last year, Mamata had announced a one-time special measure to recruit 10,000 tribal youths from Jangalmahal as constables, special constables and NVF. However, the Centre has to get around a Constitutional roadblock if it has to follow suit.
MoS (home) Jitendra Singh informed Mamata of the Centre’s intent on Thursday, . Later he told reporters: “We intend to recruit more people from the backward and border areas for central forces. There are already some provisions. But we want to include more backward classes.”
According to recruitment norms of central forces like BSF, CRPF, CISF and ITBP there is a 20% cap that all recruitment has to be made from backward and border areas. This essentially covers Sikkim, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir and Leh and Ladakh regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Special provisions have also been made for Garhwalis, Kumaonis, Gorkhas, Dogras and Marathas.
“This proposal is being considered actively and we’ve sought legal opinion. The Bengal government had taken the route of an executive order to implement a special one-time measure. So they didn’t face legal impediments. But if we intend to do it as a matter of policy, it is against the Constitution,” said an MHA official.’
Article 14 says the state can’t deny any citizen equality before law on the grounds of place of birth among other things. And Article 16 says there should be an equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. “So the government can’t deny opportunities to all by making any recruitment specific to certain demography, like the Naxalite-affected districts,” the official said, acknowledging that the Bengal model had succeeded in blunting the Maoists menace. That the Naxalite menace in the state has ebbed was also echoed by the MoS (Home) after his meet with the chief minister. “The state has done well. But this is a big problem,” Singh said.
Trinamool Congress MP Subhendu Adhikari said: “For the 10,000 vacancies announced by the state police, there were close to 5.5 lakh applicants. Such was the turnout that the CM has instructed that a database be maintained for all applicants who failed to make the cut.”
Later the state government even scaled up the number of recruitments by nearly 600. And all these from only the Jangalmahal areas of Bengal.” But more than this, Adhikari feels it is the chief minister’s three-pronged strategy of specific intelligence- based police operation, massive development work and bringing people to the political mainsteam that has to be adopted by all states facing the Maoist problem, to earn the dividends like Bengal