The security environment in West Bengal is under threat from Left-wing extremists in western areas and ongoing “separatist” movement in Darjeeling, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said on Sunday.
He said 28 police stations in the three districts of Western Medinipur, Purulia and Bankura are affected by Naxalism.
“The spread of Left-wing extremism in these areas has been facilitated by their location next to the affected areas of Orissa and Jharkhand as well as by the dense forest cover available for cover action,” he said.
On the situation in Lalgarh, Mr. Bhattacharjee said, “They (Naxals) have killed civilians and policemen, mostly in and around Lalgarh.” The Chief Minister said the police action in the area last year did not get any resistance from locals despite attempts of the extremists to mobilise them against the police.
Mr. Bhattacharjee said the time was right “to mount pressure on the extremists” as recent successes had added momentum to the anti-naxal operations, and that morale of the forces were high.
On the demand for a separate Gorkhaland state, he clearly said the state government has not accepted the demand though it has agreed to increase the powers of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill council or “any other body which could replace the council.”
Mr. Bhattacharjee said repeated demonstrations in the Darjeeling hills have disrupted normal life in the area.
“The tourist traffic has been hit and work in tea gardens has been affected. Work on schemes of income generation has suffered. NHPC has not been allowed to work on the Teesta hydel projects,” he said.
The Chief Minister said four rounds of tripartite talks between the State, Centre and the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha have been held “but no solution has yet emerged.”
He said demand for another state of Kamtapur or Greater Coochbehar has been revived with support from KLO and ULFA whose leaders have taken shelter in Bangladesh. “The Government of India must take up the matter with the Bangladesh Government as a priority,” he said.
About the general security situation in the state, Mr. Bhattacharjee said six coastal police stations have begun operation. “We are happy that Government of India has decided to continue to fund police modernisation. The scope and coverage of this assistance will have to be expanded,” he said.