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Centre diverted troops for UP polls from Maoists-prone Sitamarhi

NEW DELHI: The centre may have to take upon itself the onus for Saturday's Maoist attack in Riga village of Sitamarhi, Bihar. For, it was possibly the short-sightedness shown by the union home ministry in diverting CRPF companies from Naxalite-infested pockets of north Bihar to Uttar Pradesh for poll duty that created security gaps and led the extremists to attack a police station and loot a public-sector bank.

For almost a year now, Bihar has had at its disposal 23 companies of the CRPF for dedicated counter-Naxal operations. The positive results were showing — incidents dipped from 183 in 2005 to 107 in 2006 and deaths (both police and civilian) were down to 45 in 2006 from 94 in 2005. A total 257 Naxalites, including the Jehanabad jailbreak prime accused, were arrested and 6 killed in 2006.

But the Centre, in its eagerness to provide the 700 companies of forces for the poll in UP, withdrew 10 companies of CRPF from north Bihar last month. The suo motu decision of the MHA to deplete the security cover in Naxalite strongholds like Sitamarhi was strongly protested by the Bihar chief secretary and home secretary, who warned that the Maoists would exploit the resultant security gaps to strike afresh.

According to a report on Riga attack submitted by the Bihar administration to the centre, the suo motu pullout of CRPF companies, one of which was deployed in Sitamarhi and was protecting the Riga police station, only facilitated the Maoists in converging in large numbers on Riga police station and looting the bank there. The extremists not only killed a special auxiliary police personnel but also injured the bank manager, who continues to be in hospital.

A senior Bihar government official told ET that the state government had protested the centre's decision to thin out deployment levels in Naxal districts citing the gains made by the counter-Naxal forces in the recent months as well as the fact that the threat level continued to be high as Maoists were trying to avenge the recent death of their leader, Nathun, in police custody at a Gaya jail.

However, the protests were not appreciated by the centre, which unilaterally decided to take away the 10 companies from Bihar and deploy them for the assembly polls in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. "The resulting security gaps were exploited by the Maoists, who all this while had been lying low in view of the successful counter-operations, to strike afresh," complained the state government official.

According to the official, the Maoists are desperate and were increasingly attacking police stations, mainly to loot police weapons. The purpose is also to keep the police engaged while the extremists carry out a simultaneous attack not far away. Economic Times

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posted by Resistance 4/03/2007 01:35:00 PM,


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