The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BSF quit call in Naxalite belt
- Border force chief voices Manipur, Bangladesh concerns

Sept. 1: The Border Security Force has decided to withdraw its personnel from the Naxalite-troubled districts of Purulia, West Midnapore and Bankura in view of turbulence in Manipur. The force is also concerned about the political developments in Bangladesh.

Almost a battalion, approximately 350 soldiers, was posted in the districts about eight months ago to help police tackle a surge in Naxalite activities, marked by a series of blasts that killed several policemen.

The state police have not received any intimation from the home ministry yet. Inspector-general of police (law and order) Chayan Mukherjee said in Calcutta he was unaware of the development.

IG (western range) N.R. Dass, under whose supervision lies the three districts, said from Durgapur the home ministry would have to consult with the state before taking a decision.

BSF director-general Ajai Raj Sharma today told reporters in Nadia all the battalions along the border have been asked to stay on high alert to counter possible infiltration bids by minorities and supporters of the Awami League from Bangladesh.

The BSF had received intelligence inputs that these groups might try to cross over in fear of reprisals by rivals. Dhaka has been churning since seven grenades were thrown at a rally of Sheikh Hasina on August 21.

“We received information a few days ago that a large number of Bangladeshis was on its way to the borders with Bengal, Assam and Tripura. I have sent messages to all the battalions and the sector headquarters that whatever may be the cause of infiltration, they would be treated as foreigners,” the BSF chief said.

“Five companies based in Calcutta, Nadia, Jalpaiguri and Malda were posted to Naxalite regions of the state after the Bengal government sought central forces to tackle the extremists’ threat. But six months down the line, the BSF is of the view that the men need to return for the new task in Manipur,” Sharma said.

The Assam Rifles is expected to be pulled out of the state after widespread protests following the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama, allegedly after she was arrested by the force.

ITBP demand

Bengal has asked the Centre to deploy the Indo-Tibetan Border Police along the state’s border with Nepal to check cross-border activities by Maoists.

“The Special Security Bureau patrolling along this border is not enough. We need more forces because the situation in Nepal is alarming. I’ve spoken to Pranab Mukherjee and Shivraj Patil. I even wrote to Patil formally, but there has been no response,” Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said.

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