Bandwan (Purulia) Oct. 13: Welcome to my web, said the spider to the fly. This was exactly the case on Saturday evening when a deputy superintendent of police and the officer in charge of Bandwan led a force to the hilly forest tracts of Kantajora.
The police fell for the trap. The information that they had received of a secret meeting being held in the region by an extremist outfit (initially thought to be affiliated to the Maoist Communist Centre) was planted. The meeting never took place. What did take place was the first ever landmine blast and ambush on security forces in south Bengal in which officer-in-charge Nil Madhab Das was killed.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today expressed concern over the attack but ruled out any possibility of sealing the Jharkhand border. “The entire stretch between Bandwan and Belpahari is covered with jungles. Is it possible to seal the border'” he asked. Bhattacharjee said he was yet to receive a report on the incident from inspector-general of police, western range, Gautam Chakraborty.
Of the 15 persons arrested in connection with the explosion on the police team, seven were found to be having direct links with outfits like the Maoist Communist Centre and the People’s War.
Deputy inspector-general (headquarters) Narayan Ghosh said nine others were detained for interrogation. The state police have sought help from their counterparts in Andhra Pradesh in tackling the heightened extremist activities in Bengal.
Preliminary investigations have revealed that an inadequate intelligence network was primarily responsible for the beating the police took on Saturday.
First, the informers either misled the Bandwan police about the meeting or double-crossed them and told the extremists well in advance that a force was on its way, giving the assailants time to change plans about the meeting, plant landmines and wait in ambush.
Second, till late on Saturday night, the police thought MCC activists were responsible for the attack. After senior officials rushed to the spot the next morning and pieced together incidents preceding the attack and matched their findings with the fact that People’s War and not the MCC was active in the West Midnapore/south Jharkhand belt, it was concluded that a faction of the CPI(ML) was responsible for the attack.
“This is also evident from the nature of the assault. The MCC prefers to motivate local people against a common enemy (like the landlord at Bansgarh in Jhalda block who was beheaded in November last year). They do not go in for a direct confrontation with the police,” said superintendent of police V.K. Goyel.
The initial confusion over the identity of the enemy again points to the local intelligence failure. And if the police were carrying out a raid on a secret meeting following a tip-off, the 20-member force that was assigned for the mission was inadequate, especially considering that the spot was more than an hour’s journey from the police station.