KLO STRIKE BLAME ON POLICE 

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By The Telegraph Online in Calcutta
  • Published 20.08.02
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Calcutta, Aug. 20 : The Dhupguri killings could have been avoided had the police not flouted instructions to provide protection to local CPM offices, especially when important meetings were being held. Despite being informed of the meeting on Saturday evening by local party leaders, the police chose not to post a picket, which eventually led to the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation strike and the death of five CPM leaders. In a preliminary report submitted today to director-general of police D.C. Vajpai, inspector-general of police, north Bengal, Bhupinder Singh has pointed out that a lack of alertness on the part of the police, despite "continual threat" from the KLO, resulted in the tragedy. The report states that in a number of meetings with the officers-in-charge of police stations in Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Darjeeling districts, it had been stressed that they should keep the "information channels flowing" so that they could provide police cover whenever important political meetings were scheduled there. The officers were also told that in case of a lack of resources, senior officials should be informed. But this was ignored as well. Yesterday, the CPM cadre vent their anger on Vajpai and other senior police officials. They were heckled and abused for their "inability to provide protection". They also manhandled the officer-in-charge of the Dhupguri police station and smashed a jeep as senior party leaders looked on without making any effort to control the activists. This forms the thrust of the first part of Singh's report, titled Assessment, which is basically a post-mortem of the incident and the steps leading up to it. This section also mentions the "easy links" between the United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) and the KLO and how a supply line of arms and ammunition was being maintained between the two outfits. After receiving the report, Vajpai said the AK-47 rifles used by the militants had been procured from Ulfa camps in Malipara, Patgram and Pachagarh in Bangladesh. "This is one of the ways that the KLO has been getting its arms and ammunition," Vajpai said. However, the report attributes the lack of police alertness to the fact that the Dhupguri CPM office was not on the KLO hit list that the district police had in its files. Dhupguri was not in the "security priority list of the Jalpaiguri police", it says. "It was not that they had been planning an attack on the Dhupguri office for a long time," Vajpai said. "It is just that they got an opportunity and seized it." The second part of the report, titled Prevention, deals with the steps that the police is now taking to prevent such attacks by the KLO in future. This part has sections on the combing operations being undertaken by anti-terrorist commandos in the areas bordering Assam and Bhutan. "The police have the names of the militants suspected to have taken part in this strike," Vajpai said. "But it is difficult to get them as they could have fled across the border and into the jungles of Bhutan. But there are others holed up in the jungles of Assam. We are undertaking joint operations with the Assam police in an effort to ferret them out." Trinamul demand The Trinamul Congress today demanded a new home minister in view of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's "consistent failure to solve the state's law and order problems and the erosion of the people's trust in police". The home and police departments are in Bhattacharjee's charge.