In Lalgarh, govt awaits tribal verdict

Kolkata, Apr 14 The state government is eagerly awaiting the decision the Police Santrash Virodhi Janagoner Committee of Lalgarh will take on Tuesday about deployment of security forces during elections in the area.

At a meeting between a delegation of the committee and the Chief Electoral Officer of West Bengal Debashis Sen yesterday, the CEO had proposed to deploy only the Central police forces brought from other states on the polling day. “We will meet tomorrow and decide about it,” tribal leader Chattradhar Mahato said on Monday.

The state government has said it does not have any problem if the elections are held with security provided by the Central forces instead of the state police. “Our aim is to have free and fair elections,” state Chief Secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti said.

The committee, which has not allowed the police to enter the area, is also opposed to the deployment of police during elections.

The state government is trying hard to ensure that elections can be held without bloodshed. “We do not want to say anything at this juncture because that may cause damage to the electoral process,” Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said.

Committee members, however, were skeptic about the deployment of the central forces during elections. A member Shyamal Mahato said:

“The government has prepared a plan to deploy state police in the garb of Central forces. We do not know whether the forces would be withdrawn after the election.”

The members also alleged that the CPM has kept its goons at a shelter in Salboni and they recently attempted to capture the villages of Lalgarh the way they had earlier captured Nandigram.

“Two days ago, their goons tried to enter the villages but we stopped them. Now we are keeping a vigil at night,” said another member.

Interestingly, the CPM district committee leadership refused to comment on the allegation. Dipak Sarkar, CPM district committee secretary, said, “The party will not discuss its Lalgarh strategy with media.”

On the other hand, the CPI (Maoist) has called for a poll boycott in the area. Gaur Chakraborty, spokesman of the Maoists, said: “If forces are deployed in the area, they will not be withdrawn. And if the state government decides to go for a confrontation with the Maoists, we ready to combat with the police.”