West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Sunday said the state
government would deal with the Maoists “in its own style” and ruled out a combined major offensive with the Centre against them.
The chief minister, who was on a two-day tour of West Midnapore district, a Maoist stronghold, came out strongly against the Maoists, calling them terrorists and criminals. “They lack even basic human values,” he said.
Maoists responded within hours of Bhattacharjee’s statements, around 84 km southwest from him in Midnapore, killing four jawans of the Eastern Frontier Rifles in Gidhni, near the West Bengal-Jharkhand border.
The jawans were sitting at a tea stall in the Gidhni main market area when the Maoists struck at around 6 pm.
CPI (Maoist) leader Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji told Hindustan Times that the attack was “a tribute to Chief Minster Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee”.
The chief minister on Sunday also announced the withdrawal of security personnel from school buildings in and
around Lalgarh by November 15 — accepting a longstanding demand of local people.
“The situation is better now than it was six months ago,” Bhattacharjee said. “Now the security forces dominate metalled roads. We have to take control of the interior villages and the forests.”
On June 18, the state government had pressed combined central and state forces in and around Lalgarh, about 200 km west of Kolkata, to flush out Maoists.
“The state government will deal with the problem on its own,” he said in response to questions on whether his government would be part of a new plan reportedly being finalised by the central government to deal with Maoist violence in different states.
The chief minister said he was not in favour of any counteroffensive that “may end up hurting a huge population”.
He charged the Opposition Trinamool Congress of being hand-in-glove with the Maoists, a view echoed by CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury in Delhi.
“They (Maoists) were imported into West Bengal by our political opponents in order to be used against us,” Yechury told a TV news channel.