The West Bengal government announced on Monday the setting up of a three-member committee to inquire into the Maoist attack on the camp at Silda in Paschim Medinipur district on February 15, in which 24 Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) personnel were killed.
The committee will be headed by State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen and will submit its report within two months. It will ascertain, among other things, possible lapses in security and the role of the police in the events leading to the carnage.
“The committee has been constituted by the Chief Minister. It will look at all aspects of the matter [the events leading to the Maoist attack]. Its detailed terms of reference are being prepared,” Mr. Sen said.
The State administration has also taken exception to the recent outburst of a senior EFR official who had, at a press conference in Salua in Paschim Medinipur district on February 20, accused the local police administration of not paying heed to his repeated warnings of the logistic unsuitability of the Silda camp.
There were, however, conflicting statements regarding the State authorities’ response to the development.
While State Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti said Benoy Chakraborty, Special Inspector-General, EFR, had been “show-caused” in connection with the incident, Director-General of the State Armed Police Partha Bhattacharjee maintained that an “explanation” had been sought from him.
“It is an explanation [sought from Mr. Chakraborty], not a show cause. There are differences [between the two],” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.
“He has been asked to show cause…The matter is being inquired into,” Mr. Chakrabarti said, clarifying that no suspension order had been served against Mr. Chakraborty yet. “There are certain administrative procedures which need to be complied with before action is taken against any delinquent official,” he added.
“The inquiry process is on…I understand he [Mr. Chakraborty] has submitted an explanation. His superior officers should closely examine the causes shown by him. The explanations are being examined…I do not want to influence his superior officers in any way,” Mr. Chakrabarti said when asked for his views on the matter.
The Chief Secretary, however, criticised the EFR official for appearing before the media with a black cloth covering much of his face.
“If the officer is found to have violated the norms laid down by the administration, steps will be taken in accordance with the State government’s rules whether they are popular or not,” Mr. Chakrabarti said.