New Delhi, Jan 19 (PTI) In a blunt message to West Bengalgovernment to stop unabated political violence,Home Minister PChidambaram today told Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjeethat armed cadres of parties cannot be allowed to take lawinto their hands and must be reined in.
Bhattacharjee, after a 45-minute meeting with Chidambaranfollowing a ''letter war'', said his government would take stepsto disarm all armed group in the state but asked Chidambaramto tell UPA ally and CPI(M)''s arch rival Trinamool Congress"in no uncertain terms" that they must end their "open anddirect support" to the Maoists.
"...Maintenance of law and order is the responsibility ofthe security forces and armed cadres of any political partycannot be allowed to play any part in the discharge of thisresponsibility," Chidambaram told the Chief Minister whomet him at his North Block office here.
The meeting took place weeks after the Home Minister andthe Chief Minister exchanged strongly worded letters on theprevailing law and order situation in the state which is dueto go to polls later this year.
The Home Minister shared with the Chief Ministerinformation and intelligence available with the centralgovernment and drew his attention to the Netai incident inwhich seven persons were killed allegedly by armed CPI(M)cadres on January 7.
"The Chief Minister assured the Home Minister that heunderstood the seriousness of the concern expressed by theHome Minister and would take appropriate steps," a HomeMinistry spokesman said.
Later at a press conference, Bhattacharjee said thatbesides taking steps to disarm all armed groups, "I agreedwith the Home Minister that the recent incident in Netaivillage was very unfortunate. We will ensure that suchincidents do not recur".
At the same time, he attacked the Trinamool, accusing itof "openly and directly" associating with the Maoists.
"I told the Home Minister that he should tell them(Trinamool Congress) in no uncertain terms that they mustdissociate from the Maoists," he said.
The Chief Minister said while earlier the TrinamoolCongress were having "secret contacts" with Maoists and givingthem "covert support", now all that is in the open.
"They are openly and directly associating with Maoists tofoment trouble there. We have confirmed it from differentsources, including those (Maoists leaders) who have beenarrested," he alleged.
Bhattacharjee claimed Trinamool Congress and Maoists andtheir front organisations were holding joint public meetingsincluding two in the recent past and that some Trinamoolleaders were also "caught recently escorting Maoists", injuredin encounters with joint forces, for medical treatment inOrissa.
In his letter to Bhattacharjee last month, Chidambaramhad asked him to take immediate action to stop the violence,saying it pointed to a "virtual collapse" of law and order inWest Bengal. (More) PTI ACB ARC SC
In the letter dated December 22, 2010, Chidambaram questioned West Bengal government on its use of central forcesin the state, saying the killing of activists of politicalparties was going on unabated.
The Home Minister had also asked the state governmentto ensure that the armed cadres belonging to ''harmad vahini''(looters and pirates) are "immediately disarmed anddemobilised".
Chidambaram''s letter to Bhattacharjee came afterTrinamool chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee allegedmisuse of central security forces in the state and offered toquit if her charge was proved wrong.
Bhattacharjee and CPI-M hit back at the Home Minister,accusing him of being "partisan" with a motive to "please"Trinamool Congress and serve its "political interests". Healso objected to Chidambaram''s use of the word ''harmad'' sayingit was a "nasty" word.
Later, in another letter Chidambaram invitedBhattacharjee to New Delhi for a frank discuss on this"extremely sensitive" issue and agree upon the way forward.
Bhattacharjee today said, "Our major concern is thealleged support -- overt and covert -- extended by the mainopposition Trinamool Congreess to the Maoists for politicalgains." He said the Trinamool has been criticising anti-Maoistpolice actions and demanding withdrawal of joint forces.
"Some Trinamool leaders have organised open meetingswith PCPA (Maoist frontal outfit) members. Statements ofimportant (Maoist) arrestees indicate some joint programmeswith TMC which the Union Home Ministry has been apprised of indetail," the Chief Minister said.
Regarding the alleged existence of armed CPI(M) campsin some areas, he said "thousands of CPI(M) workers and theirfamilies were evicted by Maoists from their hearths and homes.
Now they have gone back" and indicated that the local armswith them were meant for their own safety.
Submitting a 14-page document to the Home Minister,Bhattacharjee pointed out that as many as 885 cases relatingto Maoist violence had been registered in the three affecteddistricts over the past two years.
In a bid to counter the Chief Minister''s assertions,the Trinamool Congress leaders, including MPs and MLAs, todaystaged a dharna in Delhi to oppose alleged "excesses" by jointsecurity forces and demanding their withdrawal from WestBengal.