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Delhi security ‘pat’ for Bengal

New Delhi, Jan. 10: The anti-Maoist operations in Bengal were “appreciated” by Union home minister P. Chidambaram at a review meeting today, a source present has told The Telegraph.

“Our performance has been appreciated by the minister,” the source said.

Although the claim could not be corroborated with Chidambaram, another source — a paramilitary officer in attendance — also said the minister was “appreciative of the efforts of police and paramilitary forces in the anti-Maoist drive in Bengal’s West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia.

Such a comment, usually aimed at boosting the morale of the forces on the ground, does not merit much attention but this time it coincided with a blazing controversy over the CPM’s armed camps in areas the party has “reclaimed” from the Maoists.

It also came on a day Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee informed Chidambaram that he would visit Delhi in the “third week” of this month.

On the reply, Chidambaram confined himself to saying he had received a letter from the chief minister informing him of the visit in the third week.

Other security sources today said that if Chidambaram had indeed appreciated the anti-Maoist operations in Bengal, “it should be taken as a professional opinion, not a political one”.

The security sources said that although no administration could afford to admit it, the joint forces had benefited from the “co-operation” of the CPM’s camps that often acted as listening posts and kept the uniformed forces informed about the Maoists’ movement on the ground.

The CPM did manage to recover a lot of ground in Jungle Mahal over the past months because of this policy of “peaceful co-existence” with the joint forces. However, the inherent risks in arming a civilian population and letting it loose in a conflict zone exploded in the face of the Left Front government when cadres gunned down seven villagers in Netai on Friday.

The review meeting today, held at the CRPF headquarters here, was a purely security exercise. Paramilitary forces were asked to increase vigil in Bengal in view of the forthcoming elections but there was no mention of either the Netai incident or “harmad vahini”, a source said.

The meeting was attended by directors-general of police from states, including Bengal DGP Naparajit Mukherjee, and directors-general of paramilitary forces.

Asked if the matter of deploying central forces in Netai came up, the source said: “The problem at Netai village is a political question. There were no directions on deployment of the CRPF there. It has been left to the state government to decide.”

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