Centre closely monitoring West Bengal situation

New Delhi: In the wake of fresh political violence in West Bengal, the Centre is closely monitoring the situation and is in constant touch with the state government to ensure security in the troubled-torn areas.

The Home Ministry is in constant touch with the government and received a preliminary report about the Lalgarh incident where six persons, including a woman, were killed and over 20 injured when suspected armed CPI-M cadres fired upon them on Friday.

The villagers suspecting that a house was being used by CPI-M cadre as a camp gheraoed it but were fired from inside at Netai village in Belatikri gram panchayat in Lalgarh police station area, leading to the casualties.

Sources said enough central paramilitary forces were stationed in violence-hit West Midnapore district to assist West Bengal Police to deal with the law and order situation there and it was up to the state government for their optimum utilisation to curb violence and maintain peace.

The fresh violence came days after a "letter war" between Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on the unabated killing of political workers in West Bengal, in the run up to the Assembly elections which are due in May.

In a letter to Bhattacharjee on December 22, Chidambaram questioned West Bengal government on its use of central forces in the state saying the killing of activists of political parties point to a "virtual collapse" of law and order there.

Chidambaram`s strong letter to Bhattacharjee came after ally Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee alleging misuse of central security forces in the state and offering to quit if her charge was proved wrong.

The home minister had also asked the state government to ensure that the armed cadres belonging to `harmad vahini` (looters and pirates) are "immediately disarmed and demobilised".

Bhattacharjee and CPI-M hit back at the home minister, accusing him of being "partisan" with a motive to "please" Trinamool Congress and serve its "political interests". He also objected Chidambaram`s use of the word `harmad` saying it was a "nasty" word.

Later, in another letter Chidambaram invited Bhattacharjee to New Delhi for a frank discuss on this extremely sensitive issue and agree upon the way forward.