The West Bengal government is revamping its intelligence wing to help avert incidents of violence in the state, a senior home department official said. Caught off guard during the recent Asansol-Raniganj violence, the state is also planning to strengthen its ground-level intelligence gathering mechanism, the official told PTI. The revamp has been necessitated owing to inadequate infrastructure in the present set up.
“We are strengthening the local intelligence gathering mechanism so that such kind of incidents can be averted,” the official said. After the Khagragarh blast in 2014, which unearthed a terror module of a Bangladeshi militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, the need for strengthening the local intelligence gathering mechanism was first felt.
Following the incident two years ago, the state government had mooted the idea of setting up Local Intelligence Unit (LIU) in every police district of the state for gathering information at the grass root level which will help in gaining information about terrorists and subversive activities in the state. But apart from deputing officers in LIU unit, this special intelligence cell is yet to take off fully due to lack of office space and other infrastructure in most districts.
“The officers for LIU have been deputed in most of the areas but due to lack of office space and infrastructure, their functioning is getting affected as they can’t operate sitting in local police stations. In that case their identity will be revealed,” said a senior police official, on condition of anonymity.
Although the stress was initially laid on bordering districts, it was later decided that the LIU would be expanded to all districts. According to a senior police officer privy to the development, apart from the traditional posting of DIB (District Intelligence Branch) officer in each police districts, the local civic volunteers of the police will also be used to collect information.
But the state police, following widespread violence in Purulia, Murshidabad, Raniganj and Asansol over Ram Navami celebrations, has decided to pull up their socks and ensure that this newly formed LIUs have all the facilities to function properly. According to the state home department official, there are specific inputs that the riots that took place in Bengal after 2016 were “pre-planned and are not sporadic incidents as projected by a section of political parties and media”.
“If you are witnessing one communal incident, then please keep it in mind that before this one incident we have been able to tackle more than 20 such small incidents which have not made headlines,” he said.
According to data complied by the Union Home Ministry, communal violence had sharply increased over the past three years in West Bengal. While the state recorded 27 incidents of communal violence in 2015, the number almost doubled by 2017 when 58 incidents of violence were recorded.
Both West Bengal police and Kolkata police are also keeping a close watch on social media after communal clashes broke out last year in Basirhat area of North 24 Paraganas over an “objectionable” post on Facebook.