West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said here on Sunday that the security forces had been left with no option but to act against the Left wing extremists who had gathered in the Burisole forest in Paschim Medinipur district to plan a major act of subversion. She was referring to the killing of Communist Party of India (Maoist) Polit Bureau member, Koteshwara Rao alias Kishenji, on November 24.

The security forces had also given the Maoists, who had assembled in the forest, the option of surrendering, but to no avail. The Maoists, instead, fired 1,000 rounds at the forces. Had not the security forces retaliated, many in the neighbouring villages would have died, Ms. Banerjee claimed.

Her remarks came in the wake of allegations that Kishenji was killed in a “fake encounter.”

The Maoists “had been given three days to surrender. They were assured safe custody but they did not listen,” Ms. Banerjee said addressing an election rally at Behala in favour of the Trinamool Congress nominee in the by-election for the Kolkata Dakshin Parliamentary constituency.

“No prior information”

According to her information, the Maoists were “planning to kill certain leaders of the Trinamool and stage a major subversive act.” She had no prior information of the joint security operations in the Burisole forest. “I was in New Delhi then and I first got news of it from the Press.”

On Kishenji's killing, she said: “Any death is bad but if a government decides not to act in the face of some conspiring to carry out a subversive act will the people forgive the government?”

“Let me ask you: Should the administration let the conspirators to go ahead with their plans or should it take steps against them to prevent a subversive act? I want an answer from you to this one question. Should I allow subversive activity, terror and murder? Will you spare me if I do not act to pre-empt them?”

As for the outrage expressed in certain circles against the incident, Ms. Banerjee wondered how may human rights groups took to the streets and took out processions condemning the killings for which the Maoists were responsible.

Probe into encounter

The Chief Minister said her government believed in “transparency” and was inquiring into the events leading to the encounter in the Burisole forest. “I do not interfere with the functioning of the administration. The police do their job,” she said.

Renewing her appeal to the Maoists to give up violence and return to the mainstream, Ms. Banerjee said her government would take care of the needs of those surrendering and their families. But she had a word of caution: “Do not play with the lives of people.”