“I came here in a spirit of atonement for my fellow policemen” - West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan said here on Friday after a meeting with the families of a few of the 24 Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) jawans who were killed in a Maoist attack on the Silda camp in the district on February 15.

Being in the police service for 38 long years and “retiring as the senior most police personnel in India,” the former National Security Adviser (NSA), Mr. Narayanan said that the visit was “very heart-rending” for him.

“It is a moment of great tragedy when we have lost 24 brave jawans of the EFR and there was also loss of weapons…it is a very emotional moment for me as I was a policeman,” he told journalists after meeting the families of the martyrs.

Expressing concern over the location of certain security camps that make them vulnerable to attacks, Mr. Narayanan said that he had spoken to the district magistrate and the police superintendent on the issue and they assured to shift the camps to more protected locations.

Asked if he has given any security-related advice to the State government given his experience as the former NSA,. Mr. Narayanan said: “This [the visit] is no effort at assessment. I asked the officials about what happened on the day [of attack on Silda camp]. I will take back the impression and hope to talk about it with the Chief Minister and other Ministers so that such tragedies can be avoided in future…I have given no advice to the State government.”

Preferring to hold back his opinion about the effectiveness of the ‘Operation Green Hunt,’ he said, that though he had his “own views” about the matter, he would not like to discuss about it at the occasion.

Mr. Narayanan added that he was not “fully aware of the backdrop” of the 72-day-ceasefire offer made by the Maoists.

“Since I am not in touch with Kishanji, I do not know why such an offer has been made,” he said.

Mr. Narayanan’s two-and-half-hour-long visit started with placing a wreath at the martyr’s memorial and a visit to the EFR hospital, where three injured jawans are being treated.

Later he sat down with the members of nine bereaved families and patiently listened to their requests and demands. With tears rolling down their eyes widows of the martyrs, dressed in white saris, spoke to the Governor in a sombre atmosphere.

Since most of the family members spoke in Nepali, an interpreter translated their demands in English for Mr. Narayanan, who in turn was seen taking down notes of the interaction.

“The families were reasonable in their demands. They spoke about employment opportunities for the members, which is already in the pipeline by the State Government,” he said.

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