Keen to continue joint operations against Maoists, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Monday said the State government will retain the paramilitary forces and suggested simultaneous operations by neighbouring Jharkhand.
The Chief Minister said he had asked the Centre to continue to station 17 companies of paramilitary forces and carry on joint operations with the State police. Mr. Bhattacharjee said Home Minister P. Chidambaram had accepted his proposal.
The announcement came at a press conference Mr. Bhattacharjee held here after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday. Mr. Bhattacharjee also met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday.
For the joint operations against Maoists in West Bengal to be effective, Jharkhand too should carry out similar operations.
The West Bengal police was of the view that unless this happened the State cannot consolidate the gains it had made in the districts of West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura.
“Without simultaneous operations in Jharkhand, it will be difficult for the police to hold on to the gains,” he said.
Last week, at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security, the Centre felt the primary task of tackling the Maoists/naxalites threat was that of the State police with the assistance of the Central police where needed. In addition, the plan is to focus on development work in the naxal-affected backward regions and launch welfare measures.
On Dr. Singh’s comment that talks with the Left extremists could take place only after they laid down arms, Mr. Bhattacharjee said he took a similar position.
During his meeting with the Prime Minister, he said he drew attention to the grave economic problem being faced in the State since the prices of essential commodities, including vegetables, had increased steeply. Dr. Singh said while the situation would improve after the rabi crop, the government would hold a meeting with the Food Minister after the Maharashtra elections.
Keywords: Joint operation, Maoists in West Bengal, West Bengal CM, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura