Darjeeling, March 20: The state government has decided to recruit 6,500 civic police personnel in the 14 police stations of Darjeeling district.
Out of the 14 police stations, 12 are in the GTA area.
According to sources, the recruitment process will be carried out across the state and Darjeeling is the first district where the process has been announced.
"To the best of my knowledge, the only place in Bengal where civic police have been recruited is the Asansol-Durgapur commissionerate area," said a source in the district police.
The state's decision to start the recruitment process of the civic police from Darjeeling comes at a time the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, whose writ runs in the hills, has renewed its Gorkhaland agitation. The Morcha is not in the best of terms with the Trinamul-led government now.
Kunal Aggarwal, the Darjeeling superintendent of police, today announced the start of the recruitment process.
"Forms will be made available in all the 14 police stations from next week. Candidates will have to submit their forms by April 10. The number of vacancies stands at 6,500," he said.
The civic police would be recruited by a one-year contract that can be renewed.
Candidates who have enrolled themselves in the National Cadet Corp (NCC), Boys Scout, National Service Scout (NSS) and civil defence volunteers can apply.
"The minimum qualification is Madhyamik and the candidates should fall within the 20-30 year age bracket," said Aggarwal.
The 14 police stations in the district have around 3,000 personnel now and the new recruits would double its strength.
"At the moment there are around 1,700 police personnel (including officers) apart from around 1,000 home guards (in the district)," said Aggarwal.
The civic police personnel will be given two sets of uniforms and are expected to assist the police in discharging their duties.
"The new recruits are expected to help the regular police personnel in traffic management, crowd control during programmes and assisting the local police station according to needs," said Aggarwal.
The civic police personnel who will be deployed both in urban and rural areas across the district will not be given training arms and would not have the power to arrest people.
The salaries of the civic police personnel have been fixed at Rs 4,260 a month.
In the GTA agreement signed in 2011 it had been mentioned that "Gorkha youths" should be absorbed into the police, army and paramilitary forces. So far, there has been no confirmation whether the civic police recruitment has been planned keeping in mind the GTA agreement.
Two months ago, the Darjeeling police had recruited 125 village police personnel in the hills.
Each village police personnel is posted in a gram panchayat and expected to provide information to the nearest police station about the law and order situation of the area.
The village police personnel get a salary of Rs 9,300 a month. The state government has also started recruiting sub-inspectors across Bengal.
"A total of 400 sub-inspectors will be recruited by the state government but the vacancies are for the entire state. Forms for the post can be collected from the police lines at Dali and Phansidewa and the last date for submission is April 16," said Aggarwal.
The civic and village police personnel are likely to curtail the influence of the Gorkhaland Personnel, a lathi-wielding voluntary force that was raised by the Morcha in 2008.
The GLP cadres often take up policing roles like stopping cars carrying illicit liquor and smuggled goods but they are no longer seen on the streets of Darjeeling. Although, the exact number of GLP personnel is not known, it is estimated that the Morcha had recruited between 2,000 and 3,000 youths for traffic and crowd management during party programmes.
The hill party has not reacted on the state's initiative to recruit civic police personnel.
"We would not react on this issue immediately," said Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha.