TheBengal government is ready to negotiate with the Maoists for securing the release of Atindranath Datta, officer in charge, Sankrail police station abducted on Tuesday in the most daring naxalite strike in Bengal in decades.
While stating the government’s position, chief secretary Ashok Mohan Chakravarty also stated no such proposal has reached them yet.
While softening the government’s earlier hardline on Maoists the chief secretary argued that ‘greater interests’ had to be borne in mind while handling such an issue.
“He is safe in our custody, Koteshwar Rao, 51, politburo member of Communist Party of India (Maoist) told HT on Wednesday afternoon.
Officer-in-charge Atindranath Datta was taken hostage by the Maoists on Tuesday noon. Two of his colleagues, Dibakar Bhattacharya, 35 and Swapan Roy, 31, were shot dead inside the police station.
The wife and parents of Datta visited the state secretariat and begged Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to ensure the release of the 34-year old officer.
The Chief Minister reportedly assured the family members of Datta that he would spare no efforts to secure the officer’s release, and that the administration wouldn’t do anything that might endanger his safety.
The director general of police, Bhupinder Singh, also said the security of Datta is uppermost in their mind, even as they plan to step up action against the Maoists.
On Tuesday, barely a couple of hours after Datta’s abduction, Rao demanded the release of the women prisoners held for sympathizing or working for the Maoists.
Rao also demanded the release of Chhatradhar mahato, 44, spokesperson of the Maoist backed Peoples Committee Against Police Atrocities.
Maoist rebels, who control large swathes of territory in 161 of India’s 625 districts, have killed more than 450 security personnel in nine states across India this year.
On Tuesday at 12.30 pm, about 50 motorcycle-borne Naxalites, many of them women, attacked Sankrail Police Station, 200 km west of Kolkata, and a State Bank of India (SBI) branch 100 metres away.
In an operation that lasted 15-20 minutes, the Maoists took away six rifles, three revolvers, one nine mm pistol and a huge amount of cartridges from the police station besides Rs 9.23 lakh from the nearby branch State Bank of India.
Incidentally, Sabir Mollah and Kanchan Gorai, two constables who were kidnapped a few months ago, remains untraced.
The government has requested the Centre for 17 additional companies of para-military forces to be deployed in West Midnapore immediately.