Central team meets West Bengal officials, Left Front protests (Lead)

December 2nd, 2009 - 12:28 am ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram Kolkata, Dec 1 (IANS) A three-member union home ministry team, now in West Bengal on a fact-finding mission regarding recurring political clashes, Tuesday met top bureaucrats, police officers and ruling Left Front leaders. The Left Front, however, described the visit as “politically motivated”.
The team, led by union Additional Secretary (Home) D.R.S. Chowdhary, held two rounds of discussions with bureaucrats and police officers at the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings on the law and order situation.

Led by state Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty, the West Bengal government was represented by Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen, Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh, and Additional Director General (Intelligence Bureau) Naparajit Ghosh.

Briefing mediapersons later, Chakraborty quoted Chowdhary as saying that the team wanted to assist the state government in maintaining law and order and ensuring peace.

Chakraborty categorically said the visiting delegation made no request for arrangements to visit troubled districts. “They did not make any such request. And I am unaware of any plans on their part on going to some districts.”

The central government officers have, however, lined up meetings with the district magistrates and police superintendents of nine districts at the secretariat Wednesday.

“We had the preliminary meetings today (Tuesday). Tomorrow (Wednesday) they may give some suggestions. They are slated to go back to Delhi tomorrow. But again they may decide otherwise, depending on what transpires in the meetings,” he said.

“They wanted to know the assistance that we require. I wanted some non-political support. I have mentioned one or two areas where the central government can support us,” Chakraborty said without elaborating.

“If we receive the support we have requested, I think we will be in a better position to handle law and order threats. If we get more central forces, it is possible to handle the Maoist problem in a better way”.

The central team has categorised four types of ‘destabilising factors’ in the state, the foremost of which is “the law and order problem having definite political connotation”, the chief secretary said.

The others are the violence related to the Gorkhaland movement in the Darjeeling hills of north Bengal, the dispute between the tribals and the Gorkhas in some other north Bengal districts, and the Maoist problem in several districts.

The visiting team also received a memorandum from a Left Front delegation led by former Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP Mohammed Salim.

Sources said the memorandum blamed main opposition Trinamool Congress for the political clashes in the state, alleging that it was trying to force early polls by invoking president’s rule in the state.

The Left Front earlier described the central team’s decision to tour some violence-prone zones in West Bengal as “politically motivated”, and demanded that it either drop the plan or also go to areas where the Left cadres are victims of a Trinamool Congress-Maoist “nexus”.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose claimed the state government was doing “more than its bit” to maintain law and order, which is a state subject.

“The Left Front protests against the visit of the union home ministry team. Law and order is a state subject and the state government is doing more than its bit to maintain law and order. There is no need for the central team to visit the districts. This is politically motivated,” Bose told reporters.

In New Delhi, Home Minister P. Chidambaram justified as “strictly in accordance with the constitution” the dispatching of the delegation to the state in the wake of political violence over the past few months.

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