New Delhi: In the continuing letter war, Home Minister P Chidambaram has described the killings of political workers in West Bengal as "alarming" and said that the violence point to a virtual collapse of law and order in some parts of the state.
He also said he used the word `Harmad` (hired killers) in an earlier letter because of its extensive usage in the media, but said he would use any other word to describe armed
cadres if the West Bengal Chief Minister suggested one.
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had taken strong exception to the use of the "nasty" word `Harmad` in Chidambaram`s letter last week. It is a word CPI-M`s principal opponent Trinammol Congress uses to describe the communist party`s cadre.
In a letter written to Bhattacharjee yesterday, copy of which was released today, Chidambaram said it was "not a happy situation" considering the level of violence in the state.
Chidambaram had yesterday sent two letters to Bhattacharjee, as a reply to the chief minister`s December 28 communication. Both letters were faxed as well as sent by
"While you have put the number of CPI(M) cadres killed and injured at 69 and 723 respectively, according to our information they are 65 and 773 respectively. The figures are not very different. In fact, there is broad agreement on the numbers killed and injured.
"If our numbers are broadly correct in the case of CPI(M) cadres killed and injured, there is no reason to doubt our numbers regarding TMC and Congress cadres killed and
"These numbers have been gathered in the same manner and from the same sources. Taken together, the numbers are alarming and that is why I said that they point to a virtual collapse of law and order in parts of West Bengal," he said in the letter.
Agreeing with the chief minister`s view that the CPI (Maoist) has a significant presence in three districts of West Bengal and the challenge was how to contain them both
administratively and politically and it was in that view that the Central government provided substantial support by deploying Central forces at your request.
"The question that remain unanswered in your letter is if armed cadres continue to take upon themselves the duties of maintaining law and order, what is the role of the security
forces, especially the CPMFs that have been deployed at the request of the state government," he said.
The Home Minister reminded the chief minister about the assurance given by the latter during their meetings and telephonic call in the past to rein in the armed cadres.
"....I recall your assurances to me. I wish to emphasise that it is important that the armed cadres are disarmed and demobilised immediately," he said.
"...I am afraid that the view that you now express in your letter is not in consonance with the discussion that we had no October 5, 2010 in my chamber in Delhi and the
assurances that were given to me," he said.
In the second letter, Chidambaram clarified the reasons behind the use of word `Harmad` to describe the armed cadres and said the word has been used extensively in the media and by a number of political parties.
"I do not think that the word is per se offensive but, should you suggest another word or phrase to describe the armed cadres referred to in my letter, I shall be happy to use
that word or phrase," he said.
"Both of us should focus on the substance of my letter and not be distracted by extraneous matters," Chidambaram said.
Chidambaram also invited Bhattacharjee to New Delhi for a frank discuss on this extremely sensitive issue and agree upon the way forward.