NATIONAL

Militancy is still a problem in West Bengal: Governor

KOLKATA, FEB. 27. The West Bengal Governor, Viren J. Shah, today said that armed militancy in North Bengal and left wing extremism in the western region of the State continued to pose a serious challenge to the State Government and its security apparatus.

Addressing the assembly on the opening day of the budget session, the Governor said that the operation launched by the Royal Bhutan Army against Indian insurgent groups such as ULFA, the NDFB and the KLO had led to the dismantling of militants' camps in that country, arrest of several activists and seizure of a large quantity of arms and ammunition. An equally serious threat to internal security of the State came from the left wing extremists, People's War and the Maoist Community Centre.

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Government had ordered intensive combing and patrolling by the paramilitary and police in the affected areas.

The Governor said that extremist groups that believed in armed revolution and violence operated mainly in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar. The People's War and MCC had made some inroads into West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts.

Apart from intensifying combing and patrolling, the Bengal Government had also initiated certain development projects in the affected areas to improve the living conditions of the tribal population.

``However, the problem cannot be effectively tackled unless the neighbouring States firmly dealt with these extremist elements with determination and a clear-cut strategy,'' he said.

Referring to the recent military operations by the Royal Bhutan Army, the Governor said that police and central paramilitary forces were put on very high alert to deal with the fleeing militants.

The Indian army had helped to seal the Indo-Bhutan border and prevent potential subversive action by the militants.

Meanwhile, the combing operations in Belpahari in Midnapore to track down the militants behind the killing of eight security personnel in a powerful landmine blast yesterday was still continuing.

The Inspector-General of Police (law and order), Chayan Mukherjee, said the condition of four injured jawans undergoing treatment at the Ghatshila hospital was improving.

The MCC and PW are believed to have triggered the blast in Belpahari. Eight security men were killed in the incident.