Chief Minister Bhattacharjee admits to lack of alertness during Maoist attack

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Kolkata, Feb.18 (ANI): West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Thursday admitted to lack of alertness in the Maoist attack on the paramilitary force camp that killed 24 policemen.

About 100 Maoist rebels, many riding motorcycles, stormed a camp of the paramilitary Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) and West Bengal Armed Police in Silda village and started firing indiscriminately. They later torched the camp.

Addressing media at the State Secretariat, Writers' Buildings, Bhattacharjee criticized security forces for not being alert during the attack in West Midnapore district of the state.

"[There was] Lack of alertness, this much I can say at this point of time, let the enquiry be properly done and then other thing would come out," said Bhattacharya.

As per reports, the Center had earlier slammed the state administration for lack of alertness and had alleged that Maoists took them off-guard, as they were not alert.

Bhattacharjee, however, said that everything would be clear with the completion of enquiry set up by a committee.

"I have appointed a committee. They will collect all the information, when the information came, from which source (it) came, at what time (it) came and at what the police authorities did, whether they were sitting idle or not, it need some time and enquiry," said Bhattacharjee.

On this occasion, the Chief Minister also announced setting up of a Special Task Force (STF) with over 900 personnel to counter Maoist activities and informed that 280 million rupees have been sanctioned for this purpose.

Bhattacharjee added that reconstruction of the camp is a priority and it would be now shifted to a non-populous area as early as possible.

Police had earlier said that the ambush was on a camp, nearly 200 km west of state capital Kolkata, in the same area where a major anti-Maoist offensive was launched last year.

Last June, police pushed back Maoist rebels to regain control of Lalgarh, a cluster of 150 villages in the same West Midnapore area. The rebels took away a huge cache of weapons in the latest assault.

On Wednesday, a rebel group leader, who calls himself Kishenji, telephoned a Kolkata-based news channel to claim responsibility for the attack.

The Maoist rebellion began four decades ago, championing the cause of poor peasants in the east, but has now spread to about 20 of India's 28 states, with the rebels targeting police and government property in hit-and-run attacks.

After a resounding general election win in May last year, the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance government has decided to take on an estimated 22,000 Maoist rebels who hold sway over swathes of countryside. (ANI)

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