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Joint forces to remain: Buddha

Calcutta, July 29: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today told the Assembly that the joint forces would remain in Bengal “till the time they are required to”, adding that the Centre was one with the state government in this regard.

“The work for restoration of law and order and normality in the Maoist-affected areas has to continue. Thirty-five companies of joint forces are operating in Lalgarh and its adjoining areas. They will stay there till the time they are required to,” the chief minister said.

“I have had several interactions with the Centre in this regard. The Union government also wants the joint forces to stay there,’’ he added.

Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has been demanding the withdrawal of the joint forces from Lalgarh, alleging that they were torturing innocent people and being used by the CPM to expand its base in Maoist-hit West Midnapore.

Reacting to Bhattacharjee’s announcement, leader of the Opposition Partha Chatterjee said: “What else can the chief minister say? He looks after the interest of his party first. The state’s interest doesn’t matter to him.”

The chief minister told the House that there had been an improvement in the law and order situation in some areas of West Midnapore such as Salboni and Goaltore. He, however, said Binpur was “still an area of concern”.

“The situation in Binpur is worrisome. Ration items are being looted. The district administration is not able to work there properly. Schools cannot function in these places. However, the joint forces have been able to make some headway,’’ the chief minister said.

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