Home India Politics Buddhadeb clarifies as comments on ‘death’ of constables trigger controversy

Buddhadeb clarifies as comments on ‘death’ of constables trigger controversy


Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Saturday clarified that his government had no news of the death of two constables Sabir Ali Mullah and Kanchan Garai, believed to have been abducted by Maoists.

“There should be no confusion. If I have erred I should correct myself. These two constables are still untraced. We are trying to find them. We don’t have any information that they are dead,” Bhattacharjee told Bengali television channel Chobbis Ghanta from New Delhi, soon after his comments at a press conference caused confusion over the issue.

While answering queries in the national capital about the recent Maoist attacks on policemen in the state, Bhattacharjee had said: “Earlier they kidnapped two police constables and killed them. And now this attack on the police station.”

The chief minister’s comments led to confusion as a section of the media interpreted it as confirmation that Garai and Sabir were dead.

The two state armed police constables, deployed for anti-Maoist operations in Lalgarh, have been untraced since July 30, amid fears that the Leftist ultras have abducted them.

After the chief minister’s press meet, state Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said the government had no information that the duo were dead.

He claimed the chief minister had not referred to Garai and Mullah. “Police constables have been killed in Maoist attacks earlier also. He may have spoken about some earlier cases,” Sen said.

Rushing to control any political fallout of his comments, the chief minister said the police would continue the search for the two “missing” constables. “I met the mother of one of the constables. I told her we are trying to trace them. We will continue the search.”

However, the state’s main opposition leader Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee was in no mood to let go of this opportunity to pillory the Left Front government. “He is saying something in Delhi, and then saying the opposite to a television channel. And it is such a serious matter,” she said.

Banerjee demanded that the state government step up efforts to find the two constables, who have remained untraced for almost three months.

“Are the CPI-M (Communist Party of India- Marxist) goons behind their disappearance? Is this the reason for the chief minister’s doublespeak?” Banerjee asked, declaring she would meet union Home Minister P. Chidambaram with the mother of the two policemen Tuesday.

While expressing happiness over the abducted Sankrail police station officer-in-charge Atindranath Dutta’s safe return home, Banerjee remarked that “some people are saying the whole incident could be a got-up”.

Dutta was abducted by the Maoists at gunpoint Tuesday. The left wing ultras freed the police officer Thursday evening and handed him over to a group of journalists in Domohoni jungle in West Midnapore district. In exchange, the state government did not oppose the bail pleas of a group of women charged with being Maoist sympathisers.