With large swathes of the country gripped by Naxalite violence, even as Home Minister P Chidambaram said the government was ready to talk to Maoists, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underlined the need for a nuanced strategy to deal with Left-wing extremism.
Addressing top military commanders, including the three service chiefs, at the Combined Commanders’ Conference, the Prime Minister reiterated that Naxal violence was the gravest threat to internal security, according to defence ministry sources.
Singh laid emphasis on inclusive growth to deal with Naxalism.The PM’s message came on Tuesday, when Maoists looted a bank, raided a police station and shot dead two policemen in West Bengal’s West Midnapore district.
The PM said there were intelligence reports of “imminent attacks” in the country.
A week after China protested his visit to Arunachal Pradesh, Singh is understood to have emphasised the need to build political trust between the two countries.
On October 13, China raised the pitch of its claim over Arunachal Pradesh by objecting to the PM’s visit there. A day later, Beijing asserted it would continue to take up projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Naxalism and China, however, found no mention in excerpts of the PM’s address released by his office on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, responding to demands that the Centre engage Maoist leaders in a dialogue and not gun battles, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said the government was ready for talks if Naxalites abjured violence.
“If the CPI (Maoist) will make a statement and call a halt to violence, the government would be willing to start a process through which it can hold talks with them on any issue that concerns them …” the home minister said in a letter to former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray.
In 2009 alone, the CPI (Maoist) caused 183 violent attacks on economic targets including railway tracks, telephone towers, power plants, mines, school buildings and panchayat Bhavans.
Ray and some eminent persons including Kuldip Nayar, Aruna Roy and Prof. Rajni Kothari had asked the government to stop the offensive in areas where the Naxalite parties were present to facilitate a ceasefire.