Confusion over prisoners' swap

Buddha clarifies: Release of Naxals 'an exception'

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee interacts with the media in New Delhi, on Saturday. PTI

The Marxist government’s latest act of kowtowing to the Maoists’ demand for swap of “prisoners” has triggered confusion, necessitating clarifications — first from the state home secretary and then from the chief minister on Saturday.

The first vital admission came from Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen who said the release of kidnapped police officer Atindranath Dutta in exchange for 22 Maoist prisoners could be compared to the Kandahar hijack episode. And there was no other option but to give in to the Naxals’ demand for releasing the 22 suspects.

Stating that India was a soft state and there were precedents in the past, Sen cited the release of terrorists in the Kandahar hijack case and the Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping case. He also conceded that the state government did negotiate with the Maoists for the release of the abducted police officer. “No government can say that whatever be the situation, we will not compromise. This kind of incident has happened in the past in Kandahar, Delhi and Kashmir.” Sen said. But Sen’s such comparisons did not go down well with the chief minister who expressed his reservation about it.

“The decision to release the women prisoners under a deal with the ultras was “an exception and not part of our overall policy of getting rid of Maoists. We will carry on with our objective (to end the menace),” he said, while answering queries in the national capital.

Asked whether the Maoists would be emboldened by the move and carry out such abductions again, Bhattacharjee said if they thought on those lines, “then they are wrong. I will teach them a lesson in future.”

He also announced that the ultras had killed the two police constables (Sabir Ali and Kanchan Garai) kidnapped earlier by them on July 30 last.

Misinterpreted

The chief minister’s comments led to confusion, as a section of the media interpreted it as confirmation of the death of the two cops. The home secretary then hastened to clarify that the government had no information that the duo was dead.

Bhattacharjee then gave the  second clarification that his government had no news of the death of the two constables. “There should be no confusion. These two constables are still untraced. We are trying to find them. We don’t have any information that they are dead.

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