Friday, April 24, 2009

Home Ministry in touch with naxal-affected States

Aarti Dhar



Helicopters to be given for carrying out surveillance







— Photo: PTI

The Utari Road railway station building in Palamau district of Jharkhand that was blown up by the Maoists on Wednesday.

NEW DELHI: The Home Ministry on Wednesday reviewed the security arrangements in the wake of the naxalite violence in Bihar and Jharkhand on the eve of the second phase of Lok Sabha elections.

The Centre was in touch with the naxal-affected States and geared to meet any situation, Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta told reporters. All arrangements had been made to provide logistical support to the security forces, including helicopters if required.

Mr. Gupta chaired a meeting to discuss the Maoist violence in the two States.

Instructions have been issued to paramilitary forces and State governments to step up vigil and ensure that people voted without fear, ignoring the poll boycott call given by naxalites.

The paramilitary forces have been asked to conduct combing operations in vulnerable areas and also strictly adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to minimise casualties.

Mr. Gupta said people had defied the boycott call in the first phase and the turnout was good.

Left-wing violence was feared in Jharkhand, Bihar, parts of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra on Thursday. The government was aware of this and steps were taken to prevent attacks.

On the call to boycott polls in Lalgarh, West Bengal, Mr. Gupta said it was for the State government and the Election Commission to assess the situation. Paramilitary forces had been provided to the State and whatever was required by way of deployment and force requirements would be done. Additional forces were sent to Salboni in West Bengal after a series of landmine blasts that followed the killing of three activists of a political party

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