A day after Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram called a meeting of Chief Ministers and key officials from the four Maoist-affected eastern States, West Bengal Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh visited Lalgarh to review the situation. He was accompanied by Central Additional Home Secretary D.R. Chaturvedi and Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) V. Srivastav. The meeting was held at the CRPF camp at Lalgarh.

Talking to journalists after his return from the Paschim Medinipur district to the Secretariat in the evening, Mr. Singh said the joint operations would depend on the availability of forces. Mr Chidambaram had said here on Tuesday that inter-State operations between West Bengal and Orissa/Jharkhand were discussed and decisions taken at the meeting. “These decisions will be implemented after I return to Delhi.”

Mr. Singh said following the security operation since June 18, 2009, the government seems to be regaining the confidence of the people. “There is a high level of human intelligence now available and people are co-operating,” he said. Offices of the panchayat and the Block Development Officer were now operational.

On the elusive Maoist leader Kishanji, who made yet another escape recently, Mr. Singh said: “He is our target, but I cannot put a date when he would be arrested,” adding that 300 arrests had been made so far.

State Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said the four States had agreed to hold joint operations. Inter-State operations were a major focus area during the one-and-a-half hour meeting chaired by Mr. Chidambaram.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his Orissa counterpart Navin Patnaik attended the meeting. The Bihar and Jharkhand Chief Ministers excused themselves.

Mr. Sen said now deployment would be in a sector-wise manner. The government has estimated that around 300 ultra-left extremists are active in the Lalgarh region.