PC firmly asks Buddhadeb to end political violence

In a blunt message to West Bengal government to stop unabated political violence, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday told CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee that armed cadres of parties cannot be allowed to take law into their hand.

New Delhi: In a blunt message to West Bengal
government to stop unabated political violence, Home Minister P
Chidambaram on Wednesday told Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee
that armed cadres of parties cannot be allowed to take law
into their hands and must be reined in.

Bhattacharjee, after a 45-minute meeting with Chidambaran
following a `letter war`, said his government would take steps
to disarm all armed group in the state but asked Chidambaram
to tell UPA ally and CPI(M)`s arch rival Trinamool Congress
"in no uncertain terms" that they must end their "open and
direct support" to the Maoists.
"...Maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of
the security forces and armed cadres of any political party
cannot be allowed to play any part in the discharge of this
responsibility," Chidambaram told the Chief Minister who
met him at his North Block office here.

The meeting took place weeks after the Home Minister and
the Chief Minister exchanged strongly worded letters on the
prevailing law and order situation in the state which is due
to go to polls later this year.

The Home Minister shared with the Chief Minister
information and intelligence available with the central
government and drew his attention to the Netai incident in
which seven persons were killed allegedly by armed CPI(M)
cadres on January 7.

"The Chief Minister assured the Home Minister that he
understood the seriousness of the concern expressed by the
Home Minister and would take appropriate steps," a Home
Ministry spokesman said.

Later at a press conference, Bhattacharjee said that
besides taking steps to disarm all armed groups, "I agreed
with the Home Minister that the recent incident in Netai
village was very unfortunate. We will ensure that such
incidents do not recur".

At the same time, he attacked the Trinamool, accusing it
of "openly and directly" associating with the Maoists.
"I told the Home Minister that he should tell them
(Trinamool Congress) in no uncertain terms that they must
dissociate from the Maoists," he said.

The Chief Minister said while earlier the Trinamool
Congress were having "secret contacts" with Maoists and giving
them "covert support", now all that is in the open.

"They are openly and directly associating with Maoists to
foment trouble there. We have confirmed it from different
sources, including those (Maoists leaders) who have been
arrested," he alleged.

Bhattacharjee claimed Trinamool Congress and Maoists and
their front organisations were holding joint public meetings
including two in the recent past and that some Trinamool
leaders were also "caught recently escorting Maoists", injured
in encounters with joint forces, for medical treatment in
Orissa.

In his letter to Bhattacharjee last month, Chidambaram
had asked him to take immediate action to stop the violence,
saying it pointed to a "virtual collapse" of law and order in
West Bengal.

In the letter dated December 22, 2010, Chidambaram
questioned West Bengal government on its use of central forces
in the state, saying the killing of activists of political
parties was going on unabated.

The Home Minister had also asked the state government
to ensure that the armed cadres belonging to `harmad vahini`
(looters and pirates) are "immediately disarmed and
demobilised".

Chidambaram`s letter to Bhattacharjee came after
Trinamool chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged
misuse of central security forces in the state and offered to
quit if her charge was proved wrong.

Bhattacharjee and CPI-M hit back at the Home Minister,
accusing him of being "partisan" with a motive to "please"
Trinamool Congress and serve its "political interests". He
also objected to Chidambaram`s use of the word `harmad` saying
it was a "nasty" word.
Later, in another letter Chidambaram invited
Bhattacharjee to New Delhi for a frank discuss on this
"extremely sensitive" issue and agree upon the way forward.

Bhattacharjee today said, "Our major concern is the
alleged support -- overt and covert -- extended by the main
opposition Trinamool Congreess to the Maoists for political
gains." He said the Trinamool has been criticising anti-Maoist
police actions and demanding withdrawal of joint forces.

"Some Trinamool leaders have organised open meetings
with PCPA (Maoist frontal outfit) members. Statements of
important (Maoist) arrestees indicate some joint programmes
with TMC which the Union Home Ministry has been apprised of in
detail," the Chief Minister said.

Regarding the alleged existence of armed CPI(M) camps
in some areas, he said "thousands of CPI(M) workers and their
families were evicted by Maoists from their hearths and homes.
Now they have gone back" and indicated that the local arms
with them were meant for their own safety.

Submitting a 14-page document to the Home Minister,
Bhattacharjee pointed out that as many as 885 cases relating
to Maoist violence had been registered in the three affected
districts over the past two years.

In a bid to counter the Chief Minister`s assertions,
the Trinamool Congress leaders, including MPs and MLAs, today
staged a dharna in Delhi to oppose alleged "excesses" by joint
security forces and demanding their withdrawal from West
Bengal.

PTI

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