Stop the violence, we will talk: Chidambaram tells Maoists
Home Minister P Chidambaram reiterated that the government was willing to initiate a dialogue with the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist provided it was willing to call a halt to the violence.india Updated: Oct 20, 2009 20:41 IST
Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday reiterated that the government was willing to initiate a dialogue with the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist provided it was willing to call a halt to the violence.
The home minister was responding to a call by the Citizens' Initiative for Peace (CIP), a collective of civil right activists and academics, exhorting the government to stop its proposed offensive in parts of central India where Maoist rebels hold sway.
The CIP also called for a ceasefire and urged the left extremist groups to cease all hostilities in order to facilitate dialogue.
"The government would be willing to start a process through which the state governments concerned and the Centre can hold talks with them on any issue that concerns them and the people they claim to represent," Chidambaram said in a letter addressed to former Lok Sabha speaker, Rabi Ray, a member of the CIP.
However, Chidambaram also pointed out that the only hurdle to holding talks with the CPI-Maoist was the violence that stalks the areas in which they operate.
"I may draw your attention to the recent statements made by their leaders, especially Muppala Laxman Rao (Ganapathy) and Mallojula Koteshwar Rao (Kishenji), justifying violence and armed struggle."
The biggest coordinated offensive planned against Maoist guerrillas, codenamed Operation Green Hunt, is expected to be launched in a big way.
Some 75,000 federal paramilitary forces along with personnel drawn from the state police are expected to carry out the offensive against the Maoists. It is likely to be launched in November, according to home ministry officials.
Six districts in the worst hit states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Maharashtra will be the focus of the operations initially.
The home minister also pointed out that the government did not view the confrontation with the rebels as a war against them.
"The Naxalite (Maoist) leaders and cadres are Indian citizens. The poor tribals and non-tribals they mislead are also Indian citizens. No government of a civilized country will wage war against its own people," he said.
Chidambaram also said the CPI-Maoist cadres had this year alone indulged in 183 violent attacks on economic targets including railway tracks, telephone towers, power plants, mines, school buildings and panchayat bhavans.
During the two-day shutdown called by the rebels last week in Jharkhand and Bihar there were at least 21 acts of violence, said the home minister.
Meanwhile, armed Maoists killed a police sub-inspector and abducted two other police officials in a daring daylight raid on a police station in West Bengal's West Midnapore district Tuesday. The rebels also looted money from a nearby bank and left posters demanding the release of a jailed Maoist leader.
Owning responsibility for the raid, Koteswar Rao alias Kishanjee, top leader of the banned CPI-Maoist, issued a threat to kill any senior police officer of the rank of director general or inspector general if they ventured to the area.
"Yes, we conducted the raid. We killed the police officer and abducted the OC. And if the director general or any inspector general rank police officer goes there to free the OC, we will shoot them dead also," Kishanjee warned.