The Centre has assured the West Bengal government that it would not withdraw the 1,700 personnel of central security forces from the three Maoist-hit districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, even though assembly elections in adjoining Jharkhand is round the corner.
The assurance was given by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee when the latter met him in Delhi recently, Bhattacharjee was quoted as having told a Left Front meeting in Kolkata on Monday.
A Communist Party of India state leader, who preferred anonymity, said the chief minister gave a briefing of his meeting with Chidambaram and expressed his government's firm determination to take on the Maoist challenge. He was also keen to find out the whereabouts of the two policemen missing since July 30.
He said the chief minister dwelt at length on steps to fortify all 20 police stations in West Midnapore district, alert security forces and agencies about an impending Maoist attacks and augmenting police force and check-posts in the vulnerable areas.
"Efforts will be made to face the Maoists through encounters," he is said to have told the Front meeting.
Bhattacharjee said it was evident from Chidambaram's assertion that the Centre would like to combat the Maoists effectively, the CPI leader said.
The chief minister, the CPI leader said, also informed Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh at the meeting that the combined forces had made 'advances' in Lalgarh and other Maoist-hit areas.
Ghosh earlier sought to know from the chief minister what improvement the state had derived from the joint forces' deployment at Lalgarh and adjacent areas.
Earlier, LF chairman Biman Bose said the Front meeting opined that the state government should adopt more pragmatic and expeditious steps to trace the two missing policemen.
"Government should exhibit more prompt action in locating the missing policemen. Search operations must continue," he said in reply to a query.
To a question, he said there should be no more hue and cry over the chief minister's inadvertent comment (at a press meet in Delhi recently) about the two abducted policemen.
Bhattacherjee, who had said the release of 26 women in exchange for police officer Atindranath Dutta abducted by Maoists was an exception, clarified that his government was trying to get back two kidnapped policemen Kanchan Gorai and Sabir Mollah.Asked if the government was agreeable to sit with Maoists for talks, Bose said it was not in the agenda of the meeting.