Accusing Trinamool Congress of "openly and directly" associating with the Maoists, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday said his government would take steps to disarm all armed groups there and ensure that incidents like the Netai killings do not recur.
"I told the Home Minister that he should tell them (Trinamool Congress) in no uncertain terms that they must dissociate with the Maoists", Bhattacharjee, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram here,
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 said Trinamool and Maoists and their frontal organisations were holding joint public meetings including two in the recent past and added that some Trinamool leaders were also caught recently escorting Maoists, injured in encounters
with joint forces, for medical treatment in Orissa.
Replying to questions on Calcutta High Court directive on the Netai killings to disarm armed groups, the Chief Minister said the state government was "firm" on the issue, including such groups in that area.
The High Court also refused to order a CBI probe into the case and said it will monitor the investigation by the
state CID into the incident in which nine persons were killed allegedly by CPI(M) cadres on January 7.
"It is good. Let the CID continue its investigation," Bhattacharjee said when asked to comment on the court order.
He said areas under 28 police stations were earlier affected, but the situation has improved for the better in
most of these areas -- almost 70 per cent in West Midnapore, the entire Bankura and half of Purulia districts including the densely- forested Ajudhia Hills bordering Jharkhand.
"The joint forces are dominating in the three affected districts where government offices, panchayat and BDO offices
are now functioning normally. Schools and markets are open," he said, adding that problem still existed in areas bordering Jharkhand and Orissa.
However, Bhattacharjee said "a dangerous situation" was being created by the Trinamool Congress' nexus with the Left extremists, with the former "supporting, funding and arming" the Maoists earlier and accused them of jointly
planning the agitation in Nandigram in 2007.
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".
He did not deny a suggestion that even Left cadres were armed in "some areas".
Asked about the use of the word 'harmad' by Chidambaram in a letter he wrote to him to which the CPI(M) had taken exception, Bhattacharjee said, "We did not discuss anything relating to such words". The Trinamool Congress has
been calling armed CPI(M) cadres as 'harmads' which means pirates or looters.
"Our major concern is the alleged support -- overt and covert -- extended by the main opposition TMC to the Maoists
for political gains," he alleged, adding that TMC has been criticising anti-Maoist police actions and demanding
withdrawal of joint forces.
"Some TMC 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.
He claimed central and state intelligence agencies have also received inputs that TMC and Maoist activists "have held secret meetings several times at their sympathisers' houses to chalk out operational strategy and collect funds".
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. In a 14-page document submitted 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.
While 333 civilians were killed in 2009 and 2010, 213 of them were CPI(M) supporters. As many as 47 police personnel were also killed during the period. Apart from this, 149 persons were killed in the Jnaneshwari Express accident caused by a Maoist sabotage.
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.