New Delhi, June 17: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday cautioned that the law and order situation in West Bengal was deteriorating fast, in the wake of Maoists resorting to violence in the state’s West Midnapore district and adjoining areas.
Chidambaram stated that the Centre had dispatched enough paramilitary forces to the troubled areas and assured of more forces if felt necessary. He however hit out at the Left Front government in the state, saying: “We are getting an impression that a section of the government wants to act while the rest doesn’t, fearing the consequences.”
The Home Minister’s remarks came after his ministry asked the state government earlier in the day to deploy all its forces in the troubled areas in the wake of the West Bengal Police virtually withdrawn from violence-hit West Midnapore and adjoining districts. The Home Ministry has advised the state administration to deploy its own forces in full strength as "maintaining law and order is the primarily the responsibility of the state government", a ministry official said. "The Central paramilitary forces have been sent only to assist the state police," the official said.
The Centre also advised the West Bengal government to deploy the East Frontier Rifles, Special Armed Police and the regular armed police to deal with the situation arising out of Maoists and tribals virtually taking over some of the villages like Lalgarh. Three CPI(M) workers were also shot dead in Banksole in West Midnapore district today. Around 1,300 central paramilitary forces have already deployed in the troubled areas while 300 more are on their way. "We have kept ready some more Central forces to be sent to West Bengal if necessary," the official said.
Of the 1,300 deployed forces, 700 have been deployed in West Midnapore district, 300 in Purulia and 100 in Bankora. Two-hundred additional forces reached West Bengal yesterday and 300 more will be reaching today. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has reportedly told the ruling Left Front partners that 500 Maoists - 100 of them fully trained in combat and 400 others semi-trained - had sneaked into Lalgarh from the neighbouring state of Jharkhand.
Laying down the blue print for the paramilitary forces, Bhattacharjee said as the ultras were now trying to expand their operations, the immediate effort would be to confine them to Lalgarh. "We will test their patience. There will be no attacks on them immediately but once their (ultras') patience wears thin, they are bound to attack and then the police and the CRPF will launch a counter attack," a leader present at Wednesday's Left Front meeting quoted the chief minister as saying.
However, speaking to a Bengali news channel over phone, a top Maoist leader Bikash - now camping in Lalgarh - threatened to "strongly resist" paramilitary forces if they were attacked. Lalgarh has been on the boil since last November when a landmine exploded on the route of the convoy of Bhattacharjee and then central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada. Police arrested some school students and allegedly harassed tribal women following the landmine blast. In protest, angry tribals dug up roads, virtually cutting off the zone from the rest of the district. They also demanded a public apology from the police for the alleged excesses against them. The area has witnessed continuous clashes between cadres of the ruling Left and the Maoists.