Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday hoped the government would soon succeed in reaching out to protesters in the Kashmir valley but emphasised that patience was the key to fighting and pushing back Maoists.
Chidambaram also obliquely rejected recent peace overtures by the Maoists, saying the Centre had called upon the CPI (Maoists) to abjure violence and come for talks.
“I regret to say that there has been no direct and credible response to our offer of talks,” the home minister, who is often seen to be piloting the anti-Naxal offensive and targeted by civil society activists, said.
“I think the people understand — even if the critics do not — that the conflict will be a long-drawn one, that patience is the key,” he said.
In Jammu and Kashmir, however, he hoped the government could reach out to the people and pull the state out of “the vicious cycle of stone-pelting”.
“It is my hope that in the next few days, we would be able to find that elusive starting point from where he could reach out to the protesters… and restart the process of dialogue that will lead to a solution”.
This year, the home minister’s speech didn’t go into as much detail of the Maoist problem as last year. Officials attributed this to the ongoing offensive that started last November. “At that time, he had to build a case to highlight the challenge,” an official said.
Chidambaram, however, made it a point to emphasise that dealing with Naxals was primarily the job of the states.
“It is often forgotten that it is the state governments that have been, and continue to be, in the forefront of fighting the menace of Left Wing extremism,” he said.
The home minister said it was natural that mistakes would be made by security forces and asked the nation to give the forces material and moral support to carry out their task.
In the last 10 months, despite setbacks in Gadchiroli, Silda, Tadmetla and Chingavaram, the forces had been able to reassert the control of the state in several affected districts.