Mamata appoints two new interlocutors for peace talks | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Mamata appoints two new interlocutors for peace talks

Disappointed at the tardy progress made by the interlocutors in achieving a breakthrough with Maoists, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Bannerjee has now mandated a lawyer and a retired policeman to try their luck.

kolkata Updated: Oct 22, 2011 23:08 IST
Soumen Datta

Disappointed at the tardy progress made by the interlocutors in achieving a breakthrough with Maoists, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Bannerjee has now mandated a lawyer and a retired policeman to try their luck.

Retired IPS Banipada Saha and All India Legal Aid Forum member Joydeep Mukherjee visited Midnapore Central Jail on Saturday and held a three hour-meeting with Chhatradhar Mahato and five other rebels, trying to build confidence among them to proceed to the next level of discussions.

“A team of three Maoist sympathisers (Mahato’s wife Niyati, Santrash Durniti O Samrajyabadi Agarason Birodi Ganatanrik Mancha secretary Ashok Jiban Ghosh and a yet to be nominated member) will meet Banerjee and Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy on October 29,” Saha told HT after emerging from the jail.

“The leaders said the official interlocutors never approached them for a dialogue. They, however, are keen to restore peace in Jangalmahal (comprising West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts),” said Saha.

Reposing faith in the duo, Roy said, “We are hopeful of a breakthrough.”

On July 7, Banerjee had mandated six civil society members to try to bring the rebels to the dialogue table. On October 15, she asked Saha and Mukherjee to make a last-ditch effort.

Significantly, the seven-day deadline Banerjee had set for Maoists to shun violence ended on Friday.

On Saturday, public life in large parts of Jangalmahal was partially affected after Maoists called a bandh in a show of defiance to Banerjee’s ultimatum.