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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Force not prepared: Bengal

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times  West Midnapore/Kolkata, February 18, 2010
First Published: 00:22 IST(18/2/2010) | Last Updated: 00:23 IST(18/2/2010)

The West Bengal government till Wednesday continued to be the target of the families of the 24 Eastern Frontier Rifles jawans who died in Monday’s Maoist attack.

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Angry men and women blocked the roads for nearly two hours near the headquarters of the state paramilitary force, EFR, near Kharagpur, about 120 km west of Kolkata.

On Monday afternoon, a band of about 80 Maoist guerrillas overran a EFR camp at West Midnapore’s Silda, about 170 km west of Kolkata, killing 24 jawans and looting weapons.

The relatives — mainly wives of the jawans — said, “We want the chief minister to come here. He has to take responsibility.” On Tuesday, a team of six state ministers had visited the area.

“We have given the ministers two months to fulfill our demands. Or, we will start agitations all over again,” said Kamala Dani, whose husband is an EFR jawan.

On Wednesday, a central government team led by DS Daduwal met West Midnapore district magistrate NS Nigam, and SP NK Verma. The team will make an assessment of the training needs of the state police personnel.

Dadwal was deputed to the home ministry last year to make a similar assessment for central forces last year.

The team came amid tight security in a Border Security Force helicopter. They prepared an initial report on the security loopholes and inspected the location of the camp before leaving for Kolkata. The officials refused to talk to the media.

West Bengal DGP Bhupinder Singh said, “We receive regular information about Maoist threats. But we did not have any specific information about the Silda camp attack.”

But state home secretary Ardhendu Sen said the incident was not a case of intelligence failure, though he admitted lack of battle preparedness on the EFR’s part.

Sen said, “We will conduct a departmental inquiry to find out who are responsible for the incident. It is easy to say that there has been a security lapse, but it’s not enough for taking action.”

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