Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Buddha snubs Karat, accepts ban on Maoists

23 Jun 2009, 1347 hrs IST

Coming under increasing pressure in the wake of the Maoist siege in Lalgarh and the violence unleashed there, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has announced that the CPI(M) government will go ahead and impose a ban on the CPI(Maoist) organisation. He says West Bengal cannot be an exception to a countrywide ban of the outfit.

He also adds however that his government will exercise its discretion on the degree of implementation of the ban under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and that the Maoist problem should be tackled ‘holistically’.

Bhattacharjee’s statement comes after CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat clearly expressed his dissatisfaction with the Centre’s ban saying Maoists should be fought politically and administratively.

After chairing a state cabinet meeting on the issue, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today (June 23) met with reporters and announced that the state government had decided to follow the Centre’s decision and ban the CPI(Maoist). However he had no direct answer on how the ban would be implemented on the ground. He was non-committal on whether arrested Maoists would be tried under UAPA act.

After assessing the threat perception and danger posed by Maoists, the Union Home Ministry on Monday (June 22) had declared CPI (Maoists), a terror outfit under UAPA act.

Bhattacharjee pointed out that the state of West Bengal could not be an exception to any countrywide ban - suggesting that the Centre’s ban would technically have to be implemented in West Bengal as well.

In keeping with his party’s line, however Bhattacharjee also added that the government would simultaneously address the issue ‘politically’ and with socio-eco programmes to solve the problems of sections of disillusioned people who associated with the Maoists.

“There is a central act called the UAPA passed in 1967 which has undergone many amendments, the last being made in 2008. The act provides state governments the power to act against some 34 organisations. The act is applicable to all parts of country but whom to arrest and how to arrest is our decision,” said Bhattacharjee adding “There is a strong opinion within the party that administrative action is not enough, it should be backed by political campaigns and mobilisation. The government has to undertake crash programmes to improve the quality of life of the people. Socio-economic development, political campaign and finally administrative measures - we should include all these to face this situation.”

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