KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has expressed surprise over Home Minister P Chidambaram’s assessment of the law and order situation in the state, saying it was far from an impartial overview.
Bhattacharjee also took strong exception to the use of the word ‘harmad’ (hired killers) used in the letter sent by the Home Minister, which asked the state government to disarm CPI (M) cadres.
In a strongly-worded reply to Chidambaram’s ‘secret’ letter of December 21, Bhattacharjee said, “Your assessment of the situation in the state is surprising and is far from an impartial overview of the situation”.
In his reply, the chief minister said, “I strongly object to your using the word ‘Harmad’ to mean CPI-M workers without knowing the actual meaning of this ‘nasty’ word coined by Trinamool Congress leaders”.
The chief minister also sought to correct Chidambaram on the figures quoted by him in the letter, saying “69 CPI-M workers were killed in political clashes and 723 injured while 32 Trinamool Congress activists were killed and 601 injured.
One Congress supporter was killed and 111 were injured”.
Admitting that it was not a happy situation, Bhattacharjee said, “I am trying to disarm and demobilize all armed groups engaged in violence in some pockets in the state.”
Chidambaram’s letter had asked the state government to disarm CPI-M cadres. Chidambaram had questioned the West Bengal government on its use of central forces in the state, saying the killing of activists of political parties point to a “virtual collapse” of law and order there.
In a public rally on December 27, Bhattacharjee had said that the letter had been sent “only to please Trinamool Congress” and went on to ask Chidambaram if he supports the ‘Trinamool-Maoist morcha’.
Dwelling on the Maoist threat, he said, “Maoists have spread from across bordering states and with the help of small sections of local people are creating problems mostly in 28 police station areas in three districts.”
They are indiscriminately killing political opponents and even killing innocent people. They are attacking police stations, police camps and looting arms…”.
“CPI-M and its allies are trying their best to resist Maoists and in the process they have lost 170 of their workers and leaders. Unfortunately, you are now blaming them for the present state of affairs. It will divert the attention of all concerned who are struggling against Maoists, the greatest threat to our internal security,” he said. .
“Trinamool Congress which was earlier maintaining secret contacts with Maoist leaders and outfits is now openly organizing meetings with them,” the chief minister claimed.
“The greatest challenge is how to contain the Maoists and defeat them both administratively and politically,” he said.
Bhattacharjee also listed the success of the joint forces operating against the Maoists who, he said, posed the biggest threat to the internal security of the country.
“Central and state forces have achieved major success.
Peace and normalcy have been restored in vast areas. People evicted are going back to their homes, government offices, schools are functioning normally. So are markets and shops,” he said, adding “still we have problem in the areas bordering our state”.
He also regretted that despite his repeated appeals to all political parties to stop violence, Trinamool Congress had “not responded and refused to talk to the administration while other parties cooperated”.