Naxals: cops run for cover, LIC sells 26,600 policies in Gadcharoli
Compelled by service regulations, cops may have been forced to live under the shadow of the gun in naxal-infested Gadchiroli district of Vidarbha, but they don't want their kin to suffer, in case they don't make it back. Their fear for life shows in the insurance policies they have taken out from the public sector, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), which just can't stop beaming.
The backward district Gadchiroli has accounted for the maximum business, in terms of policies, under any branch of the Nagpur division of LIC. Over 20 per cent of the policies have been sold to policemen. This, sources inform, was a substantial contribution from any one particular sector.
The LIC office in Gadchiroli district sold 26,600 policies during the year 2004-05 involving a sum assured of Rs 181.27 crore and first premium income of Rs 6.6 crore.
Against this, the Nagpur district and city branch, which has the maximum sum assured of Rs 219.27 crore and first premium income of Rs 17.68 crore, did 17,178 policies and came second in terms of number of polices in the division.
"We have always had to get ourselves insured for an extra amount when posted in Gadchiroli. This is actually an old practice, but only the prudent did it earlier. Now it has become institutionalised and everybody is going for it," explained a senior inspector posted at Gadchiroli.
He said, the number had also gone up because deployment had increased.
LIC agents said that the first thing the cops do, when they reach the inhospitable jungles of Gadchiroli, was to get themselves insured. They try to purchase as many policies as they can, so that there is adequate financial security for their dependents. Naxalite activities have been on the rise in the district in the past year, especially after the merger of the Maoist group with the Peoples War Group.
Policemen have traditionally been the prime targets for naxals. Cold statistics indicate as much: a landmine blast claimed seven cops, including a police sub-inspector, near Bhamragarh on February 22; eight, including two PSIs, died when their vehicle was blown off on May 30; three more lost their lives in another blast on June 6; two were gunned down on July 2; a state transport bus has been burnt; another one with a police escort fired upon; and several villagers hacked to death under suspicion of their being police informers till now.
"It is only natural that we would want some financial security for our dependents," said the senior inspector requesting anonymity. There are around 1.60 lakh "active" policies in the district out of which, over 35,000 have been taken by policemen.
Sources said, 21,000 of these are salary saving schemes, (SSS) where premium is directly deducted from the salary of the subscriber. Most of the rest have been taken by cops wanting extra financial security.
The SSS subscribed to, by the Gadchiroli cops, is the highest as compared to any other organisation in the entire Nagpur division. In Gadchiroli, cops constitute 40 per cent policy-holders of the SSS.
Sources said, cops take multiple policies during their tenure at Gadchiroli with the total sum assured ranging from Rs 10 lakh to 15 lakh. As the tenure increases, they increase the number of policies. The Jeevan Mitra double and triple cover risk policy is one of the most sold products in Gadchiroli.
Lately, Bima Kiran, a low cost policy which ensures several added benefits such as refund of premium, was also sold in large numbers. Even maturity amounts are re-invested into policies.
"Ninety per cent of my clientele comprises of policemen," said Dilip Kaushik, an insurance agent, who has sold the highest number of policies in the Gadchiroli district. If a cop in Nagpur goes for three to four insurance policies, in the district, the figure would be double, he said.
Kaushik said that he had started the business with the aim of helping cops get financial security. The local LIC branch settles 100 to 150 death claims a year from Gadchiroli district, out of which, a majority are of accidental deaths involving naxals, informed the agent.
This was also confirmed by the police inspector posted at Gadchiroli. He said that was exactly the reason, he and his fellow workers set aside a substantial part of their income for policies. Another reason was, because the compensation given by the government was never enough.
After cops, the semi-literate in rural masses, followed by other government officials also go for insurance covers in large numbers in Gadchiroli. They too, risk taking a stray bullet or stepping on some land mine.
Von: 07 September 2005, http://www.business-standard.com