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Police boss pins police for blasts

Bankishol, Oct. 16: Director-general of police Shyamal Dutta today stopped short of calling the ambush of security forces here on Thursday a result of police failure.

Alleged Naxalites blew up six Eastern Frontier Rifles jawans on their way to raid a rebel hideout in the forests of Lalgarh, West Midnapore. Security forces had launched the raid following a tip-off.

The police chief, visiting the blast zone under instruction from the chief minister, pulled up his own officers for allowing the raiding party to pass through the zone known to be dotted with landmines.

'How could you allow such a big team to move in this region' the DG asked officers accompanying him.

Dutta entered the forest with senior officials. However, he failed to throw any light on the identity of those who planted the landmines.

He announced that jawans patrolling the Naxalite-infested areas would be armed with self-loading rifles and AK-47s. 'Sophisticated arms are necessary to firmly deal with the extremists,' he added.

The police chief claimed several clues had been found but declined to share any. 'In the days to come, we will hopefully be in a position tell you everything,' he said before heading to a closed-door meeting with senior officials at the Lalgarh forest bungalow.

The needle of suspicion points to the People's War-Maoist Communist Centre, which is active in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, but no outfit has claimed responsibility for the blasts triggered by remote-controlled detonators.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who was in Midnapore today, called upon the rebels to shun violence and speak to state governments.

Top Naxalite leaders are in the middle of peace talks with the Andhra Pradesh government, but Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has ruled out a dialogue.

Chatterjee said: 'I have nothing to say on what the state governments should do about Naxalite activities.'

Patrolling has been intensified in areas known to be having Naxalite presence, but the police chief discovered today that the force did not have enough landmine detectors.

Investigations have revealed that the mines that exploded two days ago were planted at least 36 hours before that and the blasts could have been prevented if the route was scanned for explosives. 'We have personnel trained to detect landmines, but they failed to do their job,' an officer said.

Superintendent of police Vineet Goel did not agree. The detectors could not have helped much. 'The mines were placed deep in the ground.'

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