Saturday, June 20, 2009

State seals Bengal border

KUMUD JENAMANI

Jamshedpur, June 19: Jharkhand sealed areas bordering Bengal in the Ghatshila sub-division since late last night and set up a floating force of 100 commandos to prevent movement of rebels across Chakulia and Dhalbhumgarh after security forces launched an operation against Maoists holding siege to Lalgarh in West Midnapore district of Bengal.

Till now, the administration in Jharkhand, known to be a training ground for Maoists, has been keeping a close watch on the events unfolding in Lalgarh and had sounded an alert along its borders with Bengal on Wednesday after deputy inspector-general of police (Kolhan) M. K. Mishra held a meeting with the SPs of three adjoining districts of East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan.

The decision to seal the borders in the Ghatshila sub-division was taken last night in consultations with the state police headquarters in Ranchi after the Bengal government ordered 300 CRPF men and 100 riot policemen to begin their long march to Lalgarh.

State police spokesman S.N. Pradhan said Jharkhand was in touch with senior officials of the Bengal government, including the DGP. “We are not ruling out infiltration of Maoists from Lalgarh. But I expect the rebels to move out to other parts of Bengal since the CPI(Maoist) isn’t a banned organisation in the state,” Pradhan said.

“Only those with connections in Jharkhand will cross over here,” he added.

East Singhbhum SP Naveen Kumar Singh said they were in touch with West Midnapore police to stay updated on Lalgarh. “Soon after the operations were launched yesterday in Lalgarh, we sealed the borders and beefed up security to prevent influx of rebels,” he said.

Singh said all entry and exit points in the Ghatshila areas bordering Bengal had been sealed (see map).

The floating force, comprising commandos with training in anti-insurgency operations, had begun patrolling the border areas of Ghatshila, Dhalbhumgarh and Chakulia — the nearest from Lalgarh at 55km.

“Apart from the usual entry points to Jharkhand from the Naxalite-infested West Midnapore and Purulia districts, there are a few other areas from where rebels could cross over,” Singh said.

The floating force, which is under the command of the SP, would remain in the border areas until the operations in Bengal were over. “The force will otherwise patrol the areas and keep in touch with intelligence officials in both states,” he said.

Now that the security apparatus was in place, the state would concentrate on gathering intelligence from Bengal about the movement of Maoists. “As the Maoists are trained in guerrilla warfare, we will have to bank more on the intelligence inputs than the deployment of forces along the border,” Singh said.

With inputs from our Ranchi bureau

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