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Cops modern, numbers short

Calcutta, Feb. 26: Home secretary Basudeb Banerjee today said in a report submitted to Calcutta High Court that the state had taken necessary steps for the modernisation of the police force to prevent terrorist attacks.

The report, however, added the sanctioned strength of the force was “much poor in respect of that of the whole country”.

“The state of West Bengal, in order to prevent terrorist attack, has taken all necessary steps for modernisation of the police force with arms, ammunition, non-lethal weapon, high frequency communication system… and also by introducing improved training facilities,” the report said.

A month ago, the court had asked the home secretary to file a report stating the steps the government had taken to modernise the police force to tackle terrorists.

Banerjee’s report said the state had reached a “landmark” in combating Maoists. “ West Bengal could lower the problem almost to a zero base.”

The home secretary said the strength of the police force was inadequate. “Total sanctioned strength of police for the state at present is 1,30,146…. Actual strength of police is now, 92,108. The population per policeman in the state as per the recommended strength is 1187 while in reality it is 1658.”

Senior officers said tonight that Bengal police were mostly concentrating on the Maoist-affected areas.

“Apart from the Maoist-affected areas, policing is not up to the mark in most rural areas. If modern equipment and high-frequency communication systems were used in all districts, we could have said that the state was capable of combating terror strikes,” a senior officer said.

The home secretary said the state had received central funds of Rs 500 crore for the modernisation project.