New Delhi, February 16: There were “indications of failure” in a police camp with “adequate strength” being overrun by Maoists, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Tuesday, while condemning the attack on a Eastern Frontier Rifles camp in West Bengal in which 24 security personnel were killed.
“The attack by the CPI-Maoist on a camp of the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) of West Bengal is another outrageous attempt by the banned organisation to overawe the established authority in the state. I condemn the attack,” Chidambaram said in a statement, a day after the daring attack by Maoists on the camp in West Midnapore district.
“I also conveyed my profound sympathies on the loss of lives. While there are indications of failure in some aspects, only a thorough review will reveal how the police camp with adequate strength was overrun, when there was daylight, by the CPI-Maoist,” the home minister said.
“There has been a massive loss of lives. Besides, more than 40 weapons are reported to have been looted. The leader of the CPI-Maoist has claimed responsibility for the attack and has threatened to repeat such attacks in the future.”
The attack comes barely a week after Chidambaram held a meeting in Kolkata with officials of Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal to launch an inter-state operation against the left-wing extremists.
An eyewitness said the rebels came on motorbikes and vans and triggered a landmine blast in front of the joint forces’ camp.
According to eyewitnesses, there were 51 troopers inside the Shilda police camp, comprising 35 Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) and 16 State Armed Police (SAP) personnel.
Top Maoist leader Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji has claimed his group was behind the attack.
The home minister emphasised that every attack by the left-wing extremists exposed the true nature and character of the outfit.
“Their goal is to seize power. Their weapon is violence. No organisation or group in a democratic republic has the right to take to violence to overpower the established legal authority. Unfortunately, this simple truth has escaped a number of well-meaning organisations that find ‘legitimacy’ in the armed liberation struggle carried on by the CPI-Maoist,” he said.
Detailing the violence caused by the Maoist rebels during the three-day shutdown Feb 7-9, Chidambaram said their main targets of attack were railway property and there were a total of 11 incidents in Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa.
“Tracks were blown up, railway stations were attacked, bombs were placed on railway property and railway officials were assaulted,” he said.
“I would like to hear the voices of condemnation of those who have, erroneously, extended intellectual and material support to the CPI-Maoist.