January 9, 2009

Move us up on Naxal-hit list, says Bengal

Kolkata, Jan 08, 2009: A recent bid on the life of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee by Maoists in Salboni notwithstanding, West Bengal doesn’t figure in grade two on the list of Maoist-affected states in the country — something that has not gone down well with the state Government.

On the second day of the chief ministers’ conference in New Delhi, Bhattacharjee requested the Centre to place the state in the grade two of the list. Bengal is included in grade three at present. “As we were put in grade three (in the list of Maoist-affected states), it will not be possible for the Centre to pay attention to the Maoist menace in our state. We have, therefore, asked the Centre to include Bengal in grade two,” Bhattacharjee told the mediapersons.

Earlier, former Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had struck off Bengal from the list of grade two Maoist-affected states but Home Minister P Chidambaram had put the state back on the list. The state, however, is again missing from the list.

According to the police, Maoist activities in Bengal are confined to the forests of three districts — West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia — bordering Jharkhand. The state Government had claimed that Maoists hailed from Jharkhand and formed an alliance with organised groups in Bengal for operations. “We want to conduct joint raids with bordering states against such armed groups and need Centre’s approval for the same,” the chief minister said.

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