KOLKATA: For the first time since 2009, 30 companies of central forces stationed in Jangalmahal, a region bordering Bengal and Jharkhand once deemed a Maoist hotbed, were withdrawn on Thursday and sent to North Bengal for election duty.
The Trinamool government had requested the Centre to keep the forces in the region arguing that a withdrawal would risk a return to the dark days of Red Terror.
However, the plea was shot down by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
The Election Commission issued an order seeking immediate withdrawal of 16 companies of central forces from Jhargram, 3 companies from Purulia and 5 companies from West Midnapore districts. Some more paramilitary personnel deployed in Birbhum district, apart from a reserved battalion, were also mobilized to North Bengal.
“Maoists are active in neighbouring Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. We’ve information that the ultras often visit villages close to the Jharkhand border in a bid to reclaim lost ground. Four months ago, 4 suspected Maoists were arrested from a remote place in West Midnapore while holding a meeting with locals,” an official of the state home department said.