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Bengal voices jungle fear

Calcutta, Dec. 20: The state government today said it was difficult for police to combat Maoists since the rebels were “more familiar with” the jungles of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore.

The admission comes in a week jailed rebels have created mayhem in Chhattisgarh and Bihar prisons, prompting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the Maoist threat with chief ministers across the country.

“The Maoists know every nook and corner of the jungles. So, for the police it is very difficult to track them down,” Bengal home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said at Writers’ Buildings this afternoon.

Intelligence sources said the rebels were hiding in the vast jungles of Salboni, Jaipur and Ranibadh that stretch across West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.

Ray said five Central Reserve Police Force companies had been posted in the three Moist-hit districts in addition to State Armed Police and Rapid Action Force personnel.

“We are in touch with Delhi. If it’s necessary to deploy more central forces in the three districts, we will write to the Centre.”

Asked if the government might ban the CPI (Maoist), the home secretary said it would not.

Ray met senior police officers today to discuss police arrangements in and around Writers’ Buildings where Maoist posters sprang up a week ago.

Inspector-general of police (law and order) Raj Kanojia, fresh from Monday’s tour of the Maoist-hit areas, said the police were being trained by the army and the CRPF “to make them more efficient”.

He said all the 36 police camps set up near jungles in these three districts were being upgraded. “Senior officers have been asked to visit the camps and supervise their functioning.”

Calcutta police have tightened vigil in and around the city after the embarrassment over the Maoist literature at Writers’.

City police chief Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti has suspended four constables for failing to catch those who had pasted the posters that called for CPM leaders to be “tried” in a “people’s court”. He said a few more constables would be suspended for dereliction of duty.

The inspector-general of prisons, B.D. Sharma, has asked the superintendent of the Midnapore Central Jail, where more than 30 Maoists are lodged, to upgrade security.

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