Paramilitary officer asked to explain ‘masked’ presser

Kolkata, Feb 22 (IANS) A paramilitary officer who lambasted the authorities at a press meet after 24 troopers were killed in a Maoist attack in West Midnapore district has been asked to explain his conduct but no action has been taken against him yet, an official said Monday.

Director General of armed forces Partha Bhattacharya said that Eastern Frontier Rifle (EFR) special Inspector General Benoy Chakraborty has been asked to explain his action of criticising the authorities at a press meet Saturday where he had his face covered.

‘As of now, we have not taken any action against him. I have sought an explanation. Let me receive a report from him. Then I will see,’ Bhattacharya told reporters here.

He refused to make any comment when asked whether Chakraborty has broken service rules by holding the media meet.

Earlier, Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said a departmental enquiry has been initiated against the IG.

However, when scribes sought his comments on why the IG had his face covered during the media conference, the chief secretary was sarcastic.

‘I was out of Kolkata. I don’t know. What can I say? But I have never seen anybody wear a mask while talking to the media. I have only seen people like Bin Laden wear such masks. Isn’t it?’ he remarked.

The chief secretary also refused to attach much importance to the agitation by the families of EFR troopers in support of Chakraborty. ‘The decision (regarding Chakraborty) won’t be taken after considering whether it will be popular or not. I don’t think the yardstick will be whether some people will be aggrieved.’

Chakraborty, in a sensational media conference at the EFR headquarters in West Midnapore district’s Salua Saturday, came down heavily on the authorities, and even the much lower ranked West Midnapore Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma, accusing them of not providing proper infrastructure.

Chakraborty said the decision to locate the EFR camp in a crowded area at Silda, the site of the daring Maoist attack, was ‘unprofessional’.

The scenes of Chakraborty addressing reporters with his face and head covered with a black cloth, beamed by television channels across the country, have raised questions about the force’s morale and angered the government.

Families of EFR troopers took out a silent procession at the EFR headquarters in Salua of West Midnapore district Sunday against the move to start proceedings against Chakraborty.

Later, a representative of the protesters had demanded that the government roll back its decision within 48 hours.

The Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) lost 24 of its men in a Maoist attack on the Silda camp on Feb 15.

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