Forces yet to get Rs 31-lakh prize for killing Maoist leader

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Kolkata, Aug 28: Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) authorities have appealed to the West Bengal home department to ensure that the CRPF jawans get the monetary incentive which was announced for catching or killing top Maoist leader Kishenji, a report in noted daily Anandabazar Patrika said on Tuesday.

A reward of Rs 31 lakh was announced for Kishenji's head but the CRPF jawans are yet to get the money even after nine months have lapsed since he was killed during a gunfight in the Burisol forest near the Bengal-Jharkhand border on Nov 24 last year.

The price tag for Kishenji's head was announced by the governments of Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh in the wake of the increasing influence of the Maoists in central and eastern parts of India. Intelligence reports said that the Maoists had spread their reign of terror in the region under the leadership of M Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji, a member of the Maoist politburo and a military leader of the outfit.

The Andhra and Chhattisgarh governments announced cash rewards of Rs 12 lakh each while Odisha government announced a tag of Rs 7 lakh. But no reward actually materialised in the last nine months apart from the fact that the two assistant commandants of the CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) force of the CRPF, Vinod P Joseph and Nagendra Singh were conferred Shaurya Chakra on this year's Independence Day, reported the daily.

Home Ministry sources said even though the cash reward was announced by Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, it was the duty of the West Bengal government to coordinate the reward-giving procedure for Kishenji's death took place on its soil. But the CRPF alleged that the Bengal government was not showing interest in the matter while the other states seemed to be quite happy since the threat was negated.

CRPF inspector-general Vivek Sahay has written to the Bengal government to look into the matter and the latter, acknowledging that it has received the letter, said the reward would be given as per the procedural norms. It also assured of speaking to the Union Home Ministry on the matter.

However, the CRPF forces were supported by the Counter Insurgency Force (CIF) of West Bengal Police and hence, they are also supposed to get a share of the reward. Both CRPF and CIF sources said the task of distributing the prize remained with the West Bengal government, said the Anandabazar Patrika report.

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