The Chhattisgarh incident has prompted the state government to plan stern steps to protect chief minister Mamata Banerjee and other top Trinamool leaders who are on the rebel hit list. This is at a time when Mamata Banerjee is all set to hold over 40 public meetings in the run up to the panchayat polls in the rural areas which includes the rebel affected districts. She will be accompanied by top leaders like Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari among others.
The union home ministry has also sent an alert to the state government highlighting the immediate need to strengthen security of the VVIPs of the state who are targets for the rebels. Twenty seven people including top Congress leaders were gunned down by the rebels recently in Chhattisgarh.
“We are planning to review the security set up provided to the chief minister and other political leaders against the back drop of Chhattisgarh incident. Apart from the chief minister and some top political leaders, we are also planning to heighten security for grass root level leaders,” said a senior home department official.
“Since Bengal model under chief minister Mamata Banerjee for tackling Maoists is adjudged among the nation’s best, she along with others are on the hit list of Maoists. We think that Maoists may try to launch an attack especially during the number of public meetings the political leaders will hold in Jangalmahal. We cannot take any chances,” the official added.
At present Mamata Banerjee enjoys Z plus security cover, which would be increased in numbers and modern equipment. In addition, venue sanitization and security during her movement will also be strengthened. Also under threat is Mukul Roy Trinamool all India general secretary and Suvendu Adhikari Lok Sabha MP and Trinamool Congress pointsman in the three Maoists affected districts.
According to state secretariat sources, Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to hold at least six public meetings in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia which are Maoist affected districts in the run up to the panchayat polls. Some of the meetings being planned are set in core Maoists areas like Lalgarh and Jhargram. The top brass of state police therefore are planning elaborate security arrangements even during the public meetings and rallies. Roy and Adhikari too will hold more than 14 rallies, public meetings and workers meet in the Maoist affected districts.
“We have already asked the leaders to be extremely cautious and inform us regarding their movements in the districts including the Maoists areas. We have also asked them to follow security protocols by the letter,” said a senior state police officer. Police sources stated that the Maoists are down but not out in Jangalmahal and have been conducting secret meetings in various areas. They are entering villages in groups of twos and three and there is no armed squad movement to evade suspicion.
Interestingly the union home ministry sent a list of five persons including the chief minister, Mukul Roy, Suvendu Adhikari, Sisir Adhikari and former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee requesting the state government to enhance security.
The state police also plans to heighten security to grass root level workers of Trinamool Congress and other political parties in Jangalmahal. From MLAs to panchayat leaders a set of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ will be placed apart from more security.
Already the state police had put the Maoist areas under red alert following the Chhattisgarh incident. Congress leaders in the state too had demanded security cover recently writing a letter to the state election commission.