PC asks Bengal CM to visit Delhi immediately

New Delhi: In the wake of fresh political violence in West Bengal, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday dispatched yet another letter to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee asking him to "reschedule all appointments and visit Delhi immediately".

Describing today`s violence in Lalgarh as a "grave incident", Chidambaram said he has received information that eight people were killed in the firing and 18 others were injured in it.

"I have written a letter to the chief minister and drawn his attention to this grave incident and requested him to kindly reschedule all (his) appointments and visit Delhi immediately," he told reporters here.

In one of the earlier letters, Chidambaram had invited Bhattacharjee to Delhi for a frank discussion on the extremely sensitive issue of political violence in West Bengal.

Chidambaram had also said that he would be available in Delhi between January 3 and 7.

However, Bhattacharjee replied that though he was willing to meet the Home Minister and discuss the issue frankly across, he will not be able to go to Delhi during the period mentioned in the letter.

Today`s incident occurred when residents of Netai village in Belatikri gram panchayat in Lalgarh police station area, suspecting that a house was being used by CPI-M cadre as a camp, gheraoed it but were fired from inside leading to the casualties.

The Home Minister said though he has not spoken to the Chief Minister today, Home Ministry officials were in regular touch with the state government officials.

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 Chidambaram and 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.