Bengal police fall back on chowkidars as eyes, ears
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The chowkidar of yesteryears shouting 'jaagte raho' and armed with lathis to keep thieves at bay is set to return to present-day West Bengal.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has cleared a proposal for chowkidars in 3,341 gram panchayats, one watchman for each village, as the first tier of policing — same as the days of the Sultanate.
To be recruited through the state police recruitment board, the chowkidars will be paid Rs 310 a day, handed mobile phones and blue uniform. They will not, however, carry any weapon.
"The basic job of the chowkidars will be to gather intelligence and report any crime. They will be the eyes and ears of the state police and will interact with villagers. One chowkidar will cover one panchayat area," a state Home Department official told The Indian Express.
"He will also be asked to maintain a register to record births and deaths... The Chief Minister is very keen that the project is implemented soon," the official said.
The report of the Indian Police Commission, 1902-03, was all praise for the chowkidari system in the then Punjab province. However, the system was done away with after Independence.
According to the official, the recruitment board is getting ready to initiate the hiring process and advertisements will be out soon.
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