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Centre wants more from Bengal

In an attempt to further tighten the noose around the Maoists, who have been holding West Bengal at ransom for several weeks, the Centre now wants the Left Front government in West Bengal to declare the Maoist faction of the Communist Party of India as an “unlawful association.”

india Updated: Jun 29, 2009 00:55 IST
HT Correspondent

In an attempt to further tighten the noose around the Maoists, who have been holding West Bengal at ransom for several weeks, the Centre now wants the Left Front government in West Bengal to declare the Maoist faction of the Communist Party of India as an “unlawful association.”

On June 22, the government had labelled the Maoist movement as a terrorist organization under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 — invoked against unlawful associations that support secession of Indian territory.

A move the West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had accepted reluctantly.

Home ministry sources on Sunday said that the Bengal government has been asked to ban the CPI (Maoist) under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908 (CLAA) — invoked against associations that encourage or aid persons to commit acts of violence or intimidation.

“The power to declare an association as unlawful is vested in the state government. While the Centre has labelled the Maoist movement a terrorist organisation, the West Bengal government still needs to declare the CPI (Maoist) an unlawful association,” a home ministry official said, on the condition of anonymity.

He said the scope of the CLAA was wider than the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The CLAA enables the state government, under Section 16 of that Act, to declare an association to be ‘unlawful’. That declaration can be made if the state considers that the association interferes with the administration of law or constitutes a danger to public peace.

Orissa, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu have already declared CPI (Maoist) an “unlawful association” under the CLAA, while AP, MP, and Chhattisgarh have declared it “unlawful association” under their own laws.