The West Bengal government has verbally instructed the Centre-state joint security forces not to open fire on any Maoist leader or activist unless attacked.
This step is in tune with chief minister Mamata Banerjee's pre-poll demand that the joint action should be withdrawn.
The joint forces have been ordered to avoid any collateral damage or harm even to the supporters of Maoists in Jangalmahal, referring to the districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, where the rebels are active.
"Verbally we have been told that unless and until we are attacked by the Maoists, we should not open fire. But how can we arrest Maoists who hide in villages and forests in Jangalmahal without firing? It is better we do not carry out any operations," said an officer of the joint forces near Jhargram, West Midnapore.
This approach of the state government has lulled the joint forces' operations in the three districts.
"Any carelessness on the part of the joint forces will not only jeopardise the peace process and put the state government in embarrassment but may give advantage to the Maoists. Even if any Maoist leader is killed in a genuine encounter, the rebels can portray it in a false manner. The blame will be on the state government," said a state home department official on anonymity.