KOLKATA, Nov. 20: Petty bourgeois they may be, but their pettiness may have, for once, escaped the Maoists, who, if Intelligence officials are to be believed, are turning to them for help.
Shop-owners who run their business near police stations and police outposts in Maoist strongholds of the state have been acting as a source of information for the Communist Party of India-Maoist, a state Intelligence official said. Mr Sujit Sarkar, additional director general of police, state Intelligence Branch, said he was "aware of the new techniques" of this "information gathering system" of Maoists.
"We are also taking counter-measures that can't be disclosed," he said, adding "since we can't take legal action against shopkeepers on the basis of Intelligence reports, some preventive measures have been taken."
That the Maoists have developed such a method to glean information about police movement came to light after police interrogated a suspected Maoist, allegedly involved in planting a landmine near Jamtalgora camp of the CRPF at Belpahari a few days ago. He said militants operating in Midnapore West, Bankura and Purulia are also using children working in shops adjacent to police stations and police outposts as their sources. "The shopkeepers use code language to transfer messages to insurgents from their mobile phones. Sometimes, shopkeepers give missed calls to mobile numbers of Maoist insurgents to inform them that a team has left the police station," the official said. He said shopkeepers use code numbers to avoid arrest. Police are also keeping a watch on shopkeepers who act as sources of CPI-Maoists. Police have issued a warning to them, saying they would be interrogated or arrested if any links between them and Maoists are established.
The state Intelligence Branch has prepared a report on the counter-Intelligence network of the CPI-Maoist, said an officer posted at Midnapore West. The report revealed that insurgents are trying to get information about police movement from domestic helps of senior police officers posted in insurgency-hit areas of the three districts. The report on the counter-Intelligence network of CPI-Maoists has compelled the state police administration to improve its Intelligence network.