The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Four CMs to finalise Naxalite combat plan

Calcutta, Oct. 19: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will go into a huddle with his counterparts from neighbouring Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand in early November to chalk out a plan to counter the Naxalites.

All four states have been affected by violence of the People's War-Maoist Communist Centre, now called the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

To discuss the trouble created by the extreme-Left outfit in the region, Bhattacharjee will meet Rabri Devi, Naveen Patnaik and Arjun Munda at a five-star hotel off Eastern Metropolitan Bypass.

The talks will focus on the Naxalite menace but all forms of inter-state crime, including train dacoity, will figure on the agenda. Strengthening vigil along the Bangladesh and Nepal borders will also be discussed.

The meeting assumes significance in the wake of increased violence by the rebels in Bengal and Bihar even as their top leaders are discussing peace with the Andhra Pradesh government.

Last Thursday, five Eastern Frontier Rifles jawans were killed in a landmine blast allegedly triggered by the Naxalites at Bankishol, West Midnapore. In Bihar, the rebels tried to blow up the Rajdhani Express from Howrah last Sunday. The mine on the tracks exploded before the train arrived.

Though Andhra agreed to talk to the Naxalites, Bengal refused. Both the chief minister and the state CPM secretary, Anil Biswas, had earlier said that talks were possible only if the Naxalites shunned violence. Bhattacharjee had also said he did not know who to talk to in the rebel ranks. Last week's blast strengthened the government's position.

'How is it possible to hold talks with the Naxalite outfits when they are continuing subversive activities and killing people' Killing and talks cannot go side by side. We will apply all our strength to fight them,' home secretary Amit Kiran Deb told The Telegraph.

Deb said the number of Naxalite activists in Bengal has come down and only five to six splinter groups are operating. The security forces are finding it difficult to trace them because they are scattered and changing hideouts frequently. The extremists are also crossing over to neighbouring states.

'As the Naxalites are operating from the three neighbouring states, we need their cooperation. We are formulating a strategy involving all these states to crack down on the guerrillas,' said Deb.

Officials said Bengal wants an operation comprising security forces of the four states against the Naxalites. Exchange of information on the whereabouts of the guerrillas will also be part of the exercise.

Bengal and Orissa officials have already expressed concern to their Bihar counterparts over increasing train dacoities in that state. The issue will again come up during the meet.

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