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India’s Mamata agrees to National Counter Terrorism Centre

Central forces to move from Maoist areas to Darjeeling

Gulf News

Kolkata: Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Monday met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on improving coastal security infrastructure, steps to stop smuggling, piracy and the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC).

Talking to reporters Shinde said: “I had talked to her earlier also on the NCTC issue. She has a positive mind.”

The NCTC, which has regained importance following the Hyderabad serial blasts, was last week opposed by several states on the grounds that law and order is a state subject.

“Whenever the country faces any difficulty, she has been very cooperative,” Shinde said.

Sources say that steps on strengthening coastal security were discussed and also increasing the number of coastal police stations from the existing six as well as strengthening the coastal police force.

Discussions were also held to ensure more protection for fishermen from pirate attacks from across the border. Banerjee and Shinde visited Jambudwip by hovercraft and talked to forest officers and employees. They also visited Luthian Island and went up to Bangladesh territory.

Shinde who is on a two-day visit to Bengal visited the existing three floating border outposts (BOPs) in the Sunderbans and sectioned six new BOPSs and asked the Border Security Force (BSF) to use more technology for surveillance of the border. The Centre is funding a two-phased comprehensive coastal security scheme for West Bengal which envisages setting up 14 coastal police stations, among others.

“He visited all our three BOPs here, met with our officers and stressed the larger use of technology and modern gadgets while guarding the border,” said BSF Joint Director General (East) B.D. Sharma.

The three floating BOPs are at T-Junction, Sagar and Shamsernagar at the riverine Indo-Bangladesh border in the Sunderbans — the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site and falls partly in Bangladesh and West Bengal.

The ongoing stalemate in the Hills also figured in the Banerjee-Shinde talks as a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) delegation recently met Shinde in New Delhi with their renewed demands for statehood — the Centre is a signatory to the tripartite agreement.

“The state government wants that central forces be withdrawn from Jangalmahal which is calm now and deployed in Darjeeling hill areas to defuse tension there,” the Union Home Minister said.

Sources also told Gulf News that the leaders had a detailed discussion on the present terror warning that has been issued by the central intelligence forces on the city of Kolkata.

“We are in day-to-day talks with central intelligence in coordinating the matter of a possible terror attack in Kolkata. The state police is doing its best to avoid such a scenario,” said a state Home department official.