Buddhadeb: Maoists will be driven out

Ananya Dutta

‘Talks only if they abjure violence’

KOLKATA: “I will rid West Bengal of Maoists’ presence,” vowed Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at a rally at Debra on Sunday.

He was winding up a two-day visit to West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district.

On the progress of the joint operations by security forces to flush out Maoists from the Lalgarh area, Mr. Bhattacharjee said: “It is not easy to establish control over such a vast area. We are now controlling the area. Now, we are entering the villages and forest area.”

So far the joint forces have been able to recover control over nearly 12 police stations, he told journalists at Midnapore earlier. “It is commendable, but still we have to improve our performance,” he added.

On the possibility of holding talks with the Maoists, he said, “the question doesn’t arise. They must abjure violence and surrender arms.”

On being asked about the need for increasing the deployment of security forces, he said that earlier there were 17 companies in the area and the Centre sent an additional six companies. “It is enough for our operations.”

Mr. Bhattacharjee also assured that schools in which police camps were set up would be vacated by November 15.

His remarks came after meetings held over two days with the district authorities of the three Maoist-affected districts of West Bengal – Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia.

Mr. Bhattacharjee, alleged at Debra that the Trinamool Congress was working together with the Maoists in a bid to overpower the CPI(M).

“While the Central government has described the Maoists as the biggest threat to internal security, one of the constituting political parties (Trinamool Congress) is aiding them,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

“The Trinamool Congress is leading their (Maoist’s) way – pointing out our party offices, leaders and workers so that they can be attacked,” he said.

The Maoists, whom he described as an “army of killers,” don’t have the benefit of the poor in mind, he said. “Maoists can only extort money from people or force them to come for rallies by pointing a gun at them.”

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