Marcus Dam

KOLKATA: Clearly in a tizzy following Sunday’s explosion at Kalaichandi in which a pilot car was damaged in Union Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan’s convoy which was preceded by that of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the West Bengal police administration investigating the incident has admitted it to be the result of a major security lapse.

Inquiries being supervised by the top brass of the State police also strengthen the suspicion that Maoists might have been responsible, considering their modus operandi. A remote control device had triggered off the blast, it is surmised. Six persons have been arrested in connection with the incident and another 12 detained. A police inspector and two constables on duty at the time of the incident have been suspended.

Fresh concerns have also been raised over the security of the Chief Minister, who might have been the prime target of those behind the incident.

Steps to considerably upgrade Mr. Bhattacharjee’s security, both during his visits to the districts by road as well as in the course of his movements within the city, are being considered, it was officially learnt here on Monday. It bears recalling that security concerns had prompted a suggestion in the past that the Chief Minister shift residence – one that he was not agreeable to.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil had telephonic conversations with Mr. Bhattacharjee. “They wanted to know details of the incident,” the Chief Minister later said.

The State government will submit a report on the explosion to the Union Home Ministry. “How can I deny there was no security lapse involving [the security of] the Chief Minister and two Union Ministers [Jitin Prasada, Minister of State for Steel, was also in one of the convoys] while they were returning from Salboni?” asked the State’s Home Secretary, Ashok Mohan Chakravarty.

Investigations were on and police officials, whatever their rank, would not be spared if found guilty of dereliction of duty, he said.