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Jails get Red alert,asked to beef up security

As the Naxals went on the rampage mowing down securitymen in various states where Lok Sabha polls were held in Phase-I On Thursday...

As Naxals go on killing spree on poll day,state fears they may strike to free their top jailed leaders

As the Naxals went on the rampage mowing down securitymen in various states where Lok Sabha polls were held in Phase-I On Thursday,the state government moved to step up security in its jails in the three districts of Krishanagar,Bankura and Jhargram,where the ultras have a strong presence.

Fearing attacks to free top Naxal leaders being held in jails there,the state home department has also decided to provide special security for jail superintendents.

Intelligence inputs had warned that Naxals could strike at district correctional homes to free their comrades. The inputs,sources said,came immediately after the string of Naxal attacks in neighbouring states on Thursday and said a few hundred armed rebels have sneaked into West Bengal. “We have warned the jail department that the security system at district and sub jails is inadequate to fight any rebel attack,” said a senior intelligence officer.

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Sensing trouble,the jail department may soon shift Maoist inmates lodged in district jails to more secured central jails.

Currently,more than 30 hardcore rebels,including Maoists’ central committee members like Ashok alias Chandi Sarkar and Basudeb Biswas,are cooling their heels in Krishanagar district jail.

Similarly,guerrilla fighters like Leena Sarkar and Zakir Hossain are also lodged in the same correctional home. Bankura and Jhargram correctional homes also house more than 10 top Maoists.

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Following the intelligence inputs,the home department has sought a detailed list of Maoist inmates and their behaviour in custody. The jail department has also been asked to assess the risk factor (chances of jail-breaking) of each Maoist inmate.

Jail department sources said they have already identified dangerous Maoist inmates,who will likely be shifted to Jalpaiguri central jail. During a recent visit to Presidency jail,senior officers also reviewed the security measures in place to guard former Maoist state secretary Somen.

The intelligence inputs warned of Maoists taking jail officials hostage to free their comrades.

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In a meeting with senior jail officials,state Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen has also decided to provide special guards for the jail superintendents in three districts — West Midnapore,Purulia and Bankura. Constables with sophisticated arms will be deployed for them. District and sub jails are also introducing hand-held and door-frame metal detectors. “We have also submitted a requisition for sniffer dogs,” said a jail official.

Bandh disrupts life in Maoist hotbed
Life in three districts — West Midnapore,Bankura and Purulia — was partially paralysed by the bandh called by CPI (Maoists) on Thursday. The Police Resistance Committee (PRC) at Lalgarh also came out in support of the bandh.

The Maoists had called the bandh in Jharkhand,Orissa and West Bengal demanding hike in the wages of labourers who collect kendu leaves and forest products. The effect of the bandh was felt most in Maoist-affected Jhargram sub-division of West Midnapore,Khatra sub-division of Bankura and Purulia town and southern parts of Purulia district. Shops,government establishments remained closed. Bus services,too,were disrupted. IG Law and Order Raj Kanojia said the police are maintaining a close watch as the election in the area will be held on April 30. CPI (Maoist) spokesperson,Gaur Chakraborty,said for a long time the labourers of the forest areas are being exploited and the state government has always tried to suppress the movements against low wages to them by using police force. Chakraborty also added that his outfit will continue to campaign for poll boycott in the area. Lending support to Thursday’s bandh,Chhatradhar Mahato,a leader of the PRC,said: “The labourers working in the forests are poorly paid. The state government has been reluctant to look into their condition.”

First published on: 17-04-2009 at 02:17:44 am
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