Armed cadres cannot maintain law and order, Chidambaram tells Buddhadeb

Friday, December 31, 2010

NEW DELHI - Describing the killings of political workers in West Bengal as “alarming”, Home Minister P. Chidambaram has in his latest missive to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said armed cadres cannot take on the role of maintaining law and order.

In a letter written to Bhattacharjee Thursday, copy of which was released on Friday, Chidambaram said that the chief minister’s communication had not answered the question on the role of the security forces if armed cadres continue to take upon themselves the duties of maintaining law and order.

“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 (central para-military forces) that have been deployed at the request of the state government,” Chidambaram asked.

The home minister said he used the word ‘Harmad’ in an earlier letter because of its extensive usage in the media and sought the chief minister’s suggestion for another word in its place.

Bhattacharjee had taken strong exception to the use of the word in Chidambaram’s letter last week, saying the home minister appeared to have done so without realising the meaning of the “nasty” coinage by the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

Chidambaram said in the letter that the chief minister had cited the number of Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) cadres killed and injured at 69 and 723 respectively and the information with the ministry put the number at 65 and 773 respectively. “The figures are not very different.

“In fact, there is broad agreement on the numbers killed and injured,” he said.

He said it was “not a happy situation” considering the level of violence in the state.

“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 injured.

“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,” Chidambaram said in the letter.

Agreeing with the chief minister’s view that the CPI-M has a significant presence in three districts of West Bengal, he said the central government had provided substantial support by deploying central forces at the state government’s request.

Chidambaram, who sent two letters to the chief minister Thursday both by fax and speed post, had also invited Bhattacharjee to discuss law and order situation and the Maoist problem. the chief minister Friday announced he had accepted the invitation.

Bhattacharjee, in a letter to Chidambaram, Wednesday said that his assessment of the law and order situation in the state was “far from an impartial overview”.

Last week, the home minister had written to Bhattacharjee saying the complaints received by the central government indicated that armed cadres of CPI-M were deployed covertly under the guise of ‘village protection groups’ to guard against Maoist attacks.

Filed under: Politics

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