Talks with Maoists if they halt violence: Chidambaram (Second Lead)February 9th, 2010 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Feb 9 (IANS) The central government Tuesday reiterated its offer for talks if Maoists halted violence, but warned the Leftwing guerrillas that “slow and steady” operations against them would continue if they did not pay heed to the appeal.
Briefing mediapersons after a two-hour meeting with the governments of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal, union Home Minister P. Chidambaram claimed that intra-state operations against the ultras had made significant progress.
“My appeal to Naxals (as the Maoists are also known) is if you abjure violence, that is if you call a halt to violence, we are not asking you do anything more, we are prepared to talk to you on any matter that is of concern,” the minister said.
“Unfortunately, past appeals have been spurned. So we were obliged to continue the operations,” he said at the media meet, flanked by West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his Orissa counterpart Naveen Patnaik.
According to Chidambaram, operations would continue and inter-state operations launched till civilian administration was firmly established in all Maoist-infested areas if the guerrillas again rejected the offer intra-state.
He hoped the operations would make further progress in the next six months.
Apart from the two chief ministers, deputy chief ministers of Jharkhand Raghuvar Das and Sudesh Mahto and top officials of Bihar took part in the parleys at the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings where the progress of the security operations were reviewed and plans for inter-state offensives chalked out.
The meeting took some decisions on inter-state operations between Jharkhand and West Bengal and West Bengal and Orissa. “Some decisions have been taken. They will be implemented once I get back to Delhi,” the minister said.
Chidambaram said he was not claiming that the operations had made “remarkable achievements” but progress had been “slow and steady”.
To buttress his point, the home minister cited the arrest of some key leaders of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist and deployment of more forces in the affected areas.
“The progress is slow and steady. You cannot measure it like a cricket match score board. In fact considerable progress has been made… We will continue to make progress.
“Many key leaders (of Maoists) have been apprehended in the past few months… Key state and zonal lever leaders have been arrested… We’ll reclaim the areas dominated by Naxalites.”
Chidambaram said the operations had been “careful, calibrated and controlled” with no collateral damage.
“Contrary to what sections of the media and NGOs propagated a few months ago that there would be a massive carnage, no such thing has happened. Both the central and state government have showed maximum restraint.”
“We have made it very clear that the purpose of these operations is not to kill anyone. These are our own people, we care for them, we care for their lives. The objective is to re-establish civil administration in areas now dominated by Naxalites,” he said.
He assured that the government would rush in with development projects like schools, roads, medicare, drinking water and jobs after the areas were reclaimed.
The minister admitted inadequacies in the security offensive but said steps were being taken to overcome them.
Chidamabaram said all the chief ministers during the recent internal security meeting in Delhi were one with the central government on the Maoist issue.
“There was not a single discordant note. All chief ministers are on board.”
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Tags: bhattacharjee, chief minister, chief ministers, civilian administration, guerrillas, inter state, intra state, jharkhand, maoist, maoists, naveen, orissa, parleys, remarkable achievements, security operations, state operations, state secretariat, sudesh, union home minister, west bengal