The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt nurtures Naxalite bases

Midnapore, March 20: Police and West Midnapore district authorities are working on a common strategy to bring down violence and restore people’s confidence in the administration before the coming panchayat polls in the state.

The district magistrate, the police superintendent and other top officials met here recently to work out how to maintain the development process in the face of increasing sway of Naxalite factions like the People’s War and the Maoist Communist Centre in areas bordering Jharkhand.

Though district magistrate M.V. Rao said it was a routine meeting, senior officials stated that the discussions centred on the general lack of faith of the people on the administration, particularly the police, in some blocks.

These are Belpahari, Jamboni, Salboni, Garbeta, Goaltore and Lalgar, where the Naxalites have won widespread support.

“We have gained valuable experience while working in the Naxalite-infested areas and we have sat down with people who have been sympathising with these groups and wanted to know about their grievances,” said police superintendent K.C. Meena.

He said vital issues like drinking water crisis, roads, schools and health care were raised at the meetings. “We have told the administration about these issues and it has been decided that development monitoring committees will be formed in which along with block development officers, the officers-in-charge of the police stations will also be present,” Meena said.

The administration has already begun doling out sops in the form of generator sets for villages on the forest fringes, opening up dairy farms and boosting women’s self-help groups.

With the panchayat polls scheduled to be held in May, these efforts are being intensified. Since the past one month, block development and sub-divisional officers have been instructed to spend one night every month in any of the villages to find out what difficulties people face and suggest remedies.

One block development officer said after the meeting that the police want to ride piggy back on the civil administration to gain access to these areas and win over the confidence of the people.

“Till now, we have been visiting these areas without the police and have been spending nights, too. Let us hope the police presence does not prove counter-productive,” the officer said.

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