The Jharkhand government has asked for a CBI inquiry into reports that a former Military Intelligence (MI) official and some CRPF officers falsely projected at least 150 Adivasi youths as members of various Left Wing Extremist (LWE) organisations in 2011-12, making them “surrender” in a bid to boost statistics.
These youths were reportedly lured with the promise of jobs in the paramilitary forces. They were reportedly told that these jobs were being offered to surrendered members of LWE groups. Some of them were even made to pay as much as Rs 2 lakh.
After their “surrender” in late 2011, these youths were kept in the old Ranchi jail for up to a year, guarded by some personnel of the 203rd Battalion of the CRPF’s CoBRA. This jail was not in use since 2006, when a new jail was built on the outskirts of Ranchi.
State government sources said the “scam” was the result of an ambitious project of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that went wrong. The MHA had brought in former MI officer Ravi Bodra, now accused of being the “lynchpin”, after his work in Assam where he convinced some Bodo militants to surrender.
“Bodra was in the Army and served in Nagaland. He later became an MI officer and was effective in getting a number of extremists to surrender in Assam. He wanted to do the same in Jharkhand and was successful for a while in Khunti district,” said Ranchi SP Anup Birthare. However, he refused to divulge which agency had given Bodra, also known as Ravi Barla, the Jharkhand mission.
“The MHA decided to use him to boost the surrenders here. The CRPF as well as the police were kept in the loop about Bodra’s activities. Bodra also maintained good relations with Maoist leaders,” said sources. There was even a plan to present the youth en masse before a minister of the MHA.
An FIR registered at the Lower Bazaar police station on March 3 this year lists Bodra, Dinesh Prajapati, Caroline Kerketta and another individual as accused. Prajapati was the director of Dighdarshan Coaching Institute and Kerketta acted as an agent. “We have recorded statements of 18 students claiming that Prajapati and Bodra took Rs 55,000-1.5 lakh from each of them, promising jobs in the Army and paramilitary forces, and then made them pose as Maoists,” said Birthare.
However, it is not clear whether those responsible for the “scam” also claimed the MHA’s benefits for surrendered members of LWE groups, who are liable to receive Rs 1.5-2.5 lakh, depending on their rank in the organisation. They are also paid Rs 4,000 per month as stipend for the first 36 months.
The Sunday Express met 14 such youths who claimed that 500-550 others hailing from Ranchi, Khunti, Gumla and Lohardaga districts were in jail with them. None of them have a criminal continued…
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.