Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Not much to do now: CRPF boss


Not much to do now: CRPF boss
A Jamait Ulema-i-Hind leader at a CPM victory procession on Monday

New Delhi/Nandigram, Nov. 12: When around 150 Central Reserve Police Force personnel finally got into Nandigram, it was too late — that is the gist of the report CRPF director-general S.I.S. Ahmed has sent to the Centre.

“The private armies, comprised of CPM cadres, have al- ready captured the area. It was only after that the CRPF personnel were allowed in. Now there is not much that the CRPF can do, except maintain status quo and protect the private armies,” Ahmed said, according to Union home ministry sources.

The CRPF boss decided to visit Bengal and meet chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today following reports that the state administration was not helping in the deployment of his personnel.

“The state government is supposed to provide the per- sonnel a place to stay that is closest to the troubled spot. Here, they have been put up in Tamluk, which is more than 60km away,” a home ministry official said.

“This means that all the personnel cannot be deployed at the same time,” he added.

There were allegations of hostility by local people, especially CPM cadres. “The personnel were not allowed to move in till the CPM took control of the area using human shields,” the official said.

“Once that is done, the duty of CRPF is to maintain peace and law and order. It is not for them to take a stand and judge who should be in and who should be out. Now they will have to maintain the situation the way it is.”

Six companies — each with 80 personnel — led by CRPF inspector-general S. Goswami and his deputy Alok Raj moved into the war zone around 4pm and began with flag marches at Reyapara and Haripur.

Ahmed said: “I discussed the deployment of personnel and the situation in Nandigram with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.”

The force would work in “close co-ordination with the state administration”.

In Nandigram, DIG Raj said: “Our priority is to rebuild the confidence of people.”

Among the six companies, one from Maharashtra comprises only women.

“We have read about the condition in Nandigram in newspapers and we know the problem here. We are assessing the ground situation and steps would be taken accordingly,” Raj said. He hinted that the personnel would enter the remote villages from tomorrow.

“'The CPM cadres have done their job fast,” a CRPF official said.

Some 20 cadres, who had been blocking the entry of people to Nandigram town, fled seeing the CRPF trucks approach this afternoon.

“Everything is in order now,” one of them said, standing behind a shanty.

At Writers’ Buildings, the chief minister thanked foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee for the CRPF’s arrival.