The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rebel policy tops Advani agenda

Ranchi, Jan. 30: Calling upon the Prime Minister to review the government's 'Naxalite policy', former deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani and former BJP national president Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday 'appealed' to the Prime Minister to immediately call a meeting of the chief ministers of the Naxalite-affected states.

The two BJP leaders felt that the situation was grim in both Bihar and Jharkhand. But while deployment of more central paramilitary forces would be enough to conduct the election in Jharkhand, they said, in Bihar the deployment must also be supervised by the Election Commission to achieve the desired result.

The Election Commission, said Advani, is helpless before the nexus the ruling party in Bihar had with the official machinery. He hastened to add that he did not doubt the integrity of the Election Commission but felt that not enough was being done to ensure smooth and fair poll in that state.

Declaring that Naxalite violence was not an ordinary law and order problem, Advani said the NDA was not averse to talks with the Naxalites but could not agree to Naxalites holding the state to ransom. Referring to the attack on the helicopter carrying Venkaiah Naidu in Gaya, Advani said it was difficult for him to say with any certainty that the attack was by rebels.

Narrating his experience, Naidu said soon after making an emergency landing, he contacted his party members who got in touch with the police. But with no sign of the police arriving, villagers advised him to leave. He therefore sat on the pillion of a motorcycle and moved out. Soon thereafter, petrol bombs were thrown at the chopper, which was reduced to ashes.

'I rode more than 13 km on a motorcycle. On reaching the national highway, I found a police patrol party waiting there. The police vehicle was in poor condition. They did not have adequate number of men either. When I asked them why they didn't come to the village despite being informed more than an hour ago, they replied that venturing into the village was not safe for the men in uniform, because it happened to be a traditional Naxalite stronghold,' he recalled.

The Communist Party of India (Maoists), meanwhile, has given a 'bandh' call in Palamau tomorrow to protest against the killing of three of their members by the break-away faction of Sangharsh Jan Mukti Manch (SJMM) 'backed by the police'.

An alert has been sounded with Congress president Sonia Gandhi also expected to address two election meetings on Monday in Jharkhand, at Hazaribagh and at Daltonganj. She arrives on a two-day visit to address meetings in both Jharkhand and Bihar. Police put up a brave face and claimed that arrangements had been made to escort vehicles and trains on Monday.

DIG (Palamau range), M.V. Rao told The Telegraph from Daltonganj that special vigil will be maintained over railway tracks and highways.

Central paramilitary forces have been pressed into service to patrol the railway tracks and carry out combing operations around the suspected hideouts of the rebels, the police claimed.

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