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Prison alert after jailbreak

Calcutta, Dec. 17: All 53 prisons in the state have been put on alert in the wake of yesterday’s jailbreak in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh.

“The jails have been told to co-ordinate with district police to intensify vigil,” said inspector-general of police (prisons) B.D. Sharma.

The Bengal government today ruled out any plan to ban Maoist outfits.

“We have no such plan,” home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray said after a meeting with the city police commissioner on the Maoist posters that appeared on the walls of Writers’ Buildings on Friday.

Ray said commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti had been told to find out who put up the posters that called for the “trial of CPM leaders” in a “people’s court”.

Sharma said special security measures had been lined up for the jails where Maoists were lodged. “Besides our (jail) security staff, state armed police personnel have been deployed around the premises.”

About 100 Maoists are imprisoned in Bengal. Midnapore Central Jail houses the maximum number: 30. Prisons in Purulia, Jhargram, Bankura, Krishnagar and Malda and Presidency Jail in Calcutta also have Maoist inmates.

About 30 activists of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, which has often been linked to the banned Ulfa, are lodged in Jalpaiguri jail.

“We have sought forces from local police stations to help our own staff,” said a deputy inspector-general (prisons).

The home secretary reviewed security arrangements in the jails with Sharma and other senior officials during the day. The district magistrates of Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore have been asked to ensure “extra vigil”.

Bengal witnessed one of its biggest jailbreaks when 44 Naxalites fled Presidency Jail after killing a guard in 1976.

Maoist action squad leaders Patit Paban Halder and Santosh Debnath are lodged in Presidency Jail now.

Four constables were suspended after the posters were found at Writers’. Chakrabarti said: “We are probing the matter. Further action is likely.”

Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim rejected an adjournment motion moved by the Trinamul Congress demanding a discussion on the posters. He said the party — with 24 MLAs present — did not have the “strength” to move the motion.

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