Allegations by a senior official of the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) that the local police administration refused to heed his warnings that the location of the security camp at Silda in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district was unsuitable has created ripples in the State administration.
Twenty four EFR jawans were killed in the attack by the Maoists on February 15, following which the State government decided to reconstruct the camp at a more suitable site.Benoy Chakraborty, Special Inspector-General, EFR, claimed on Saturday that he had repeatedly warned the district police against setting up the camp at Silda and insisted on it being relocated.
Continuing with the camp at that site was tantamount to “a most unprofessional use of the police forces” he maintained before journalists at Salua in the district.
Besides bringing to the open his differences with the Superintendent of Police on the matter, what also raised eyebrows was that Mr. Chakraborty had his face – but for his eyes – covered with a black cloth while making his allegations.
Though a senior police official denied on Sunday any knowledge as yet of action against Mr. Chakraborty for his outburst, family members and friends of some of the EFR jawans killed in the Maoist attack took out a procession at Salua in protest against what they termed was the State government’s “decision to suspend” him.
The processionists, many of whom were women, had their mouths covered with black scarves and carried placards demanding within 48 hours “withdrawal of the suspension order” served on Mr. Chakraborty. They threatened to launch a bigger campaign if their demand was not acceded to.
The utterances of Mr. Chakraborty notwithstanding, the State government has already initiated moves to reconstruct the Silda camp at an alternative site which does not have any substantial habitation.
Apart from raising the level of alertness in all police stations in the region it is also considering relocating camps which may be lying in the vicinity of populated areas – a factor that had cost the Silda camp, located near a bazaar, dearly, in terms of lives lost and arms looted.