The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dhupguri attack opens door for Buddha terror law

Calcutta, Aug. 27: The targeting of CPM activists by rebels, particularly the recent strike on the CPM office in Dhupguri that left five workers dead, has left the CPM feeling vulnerable and opened a window for the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is likely to reassert his case for the introduction of the Bill at the Left Front meeting scheduled for the second week of September.

The party leadership had stonewalled earlier efforts to introduce the controversial law, arguing that since the CPM had dubbed the Centre’s anti-terror law “draconian”, it could hardly go ahead with a similar law of its own. But the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation strike at Dhupguri may have forced a rethink, party sources said. Moreover, Bhattacharjee’s chances of pushing through the law have brightened as the party’s central leadership indicated during a recent politburo meeting in Delhi that it would leave the “final decision” to the state leadership.

The KLO’s links with the Ulfa, including the fact that the north Bengal terrorists were receiving training from the Assam outfit in Bhutan’s jungles, had been established. Bhattacharjee would press his case, pointing out that the existing laws were useless since the militants were using foreign soil as refuge, the sources said.

“The chief minister is likely to stress that only Poca can halt the march of the terrorists…. With Assam operating under the unified command of the army, the state government is falling woefully short in tackling the menace of terrorism,” a source said.

The CPM in Midnapore is also finding it difficult to tackle the People’s War activists, who have killed six party leaders in the two Midnapore districts over the past year. The recent KLO attack and the continuous threat from the Naxalites have made a section of CPM leaders shaky and they feel it is the right time for Bhattacharjee to introduce the law against organised crime in Bengal.

Bhattacharjee had to abandon his idea of promulgating the law against organised crime earlier in the face of criticism from his own party leaders and leaders of different Front constituents. The CPI had strongly opposed the law. The Forward Bloc, too, had expressed reservations against the proposed Act.

Party insiders said the issue might also be raised during the two-day state committee meeting beginning September 7. Though the conclave has been convened to discuss the panchayat elections next year, it is likely that the anti-organised crime law issue might be mentioned.

The sources said the issue will also figure at a meeting with leaders of the party’s Jalpaiguri district unit to discuss the Dhupguri attack. Jalpaiguri district Left Front committee leader are expected to come to Calcutta to hold talks with the state leadership sometime in September.

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