Sunday, November 18, 2007

CRPF stresses need to set up camps in interiors

No help, force cries foul
- CRPF stresses need to set up camps in interiors

Nandigram, Nov. 17: The CRPF today said it was difficult to fan out in the interiors of Nandigram in the absence of adequate support from the district administration, particularly police.

Five days after trooping into the land battle zone, the central force today vented its frustration at a meeting with senior state police officers, including Sujit Sarkar, additional director-general (intelligence), and Vageesh Mishra, ADG (railways).

The CRPF officers said it was necessary for the force to dig deep into the terror-torn pockets but it could not do so without the administration providing the infrastructure to set up camps.

The decision to set up camps, sources said, followed appeals from several Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee members, who said they wanted to return home in the presence of the central force.

“People at Satengabari and Ranichawk said they were keen to return. It is harvest time for many and they wanted us there while they arrived home. But we need some basic support to keep our men there,” said a senior CRPF officer.

The CRPF has set up five camps, but they aren’t of much use as they are located in places where there is hardly any trouble, the officers said. For instance, the camp of the women’s battalion is in Tamluk, 65km away from Nandigram. Another camp is in Nandigram town, which is largely trouble-free, and two have been set up in Khodambari, which has not seen much violence either.

“What we need to do is set up camps in the interiors where fear is lurking in every corner,” a CRPF officer said. “We need to set up at least three camps in the interiors, including one in Khejuri.”

Today’s high-level meeting was the first the CRPF has held with the state police since arriving in the state on Mission Nandigram.

The police officers assured support to the central force and suggested joint combing operations to flush out outsiders. It was decided at the meeting that four new camps would be set up.

“We want to move into some of the pockets immediately and need logistics support, including accommodation. Given the number of phone calls we receive from different areas, it appears the women’s regiment in Tamluk cannot stay put in one place for days,” said Alok Raj, the CRPF DIG.

“We hope things will work out,” he added.

Raj had yesterday written to the district police chief, S.S. Panda, for help in setting up a camp at Takapura.