The new West Bengal government is ready to begin a dialogue with Maoists provided they are willing to stop violence.
While making the announcement on Thursday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said 46 political prisoners would be released shortly.
The government is always “eager for dialogue” and a peaceful resolution of the problems of the area, Banerjee said. But “all those terrorising the people would have to desist,” she said. “If one surrenders arms, the government would extend all help, including a special rehabilitation package.”
Banerjee named six members of the civil society who would spearhead the government’s initiative. She promised to withdraw anti-Naxal forces from the area once peace was restored.
The chief minister also emphasised that her government would not pursue any policy of vengeance against the rebels.
“The process of releasing 46 political prisoners would be completed within a couple of days,” Banerjee said. She, however, did not name the prisoners who were to be released.
The chief minister made the announcement following a meeting on Thursday, which was attended by education minister Bratya Basu, chief secretary Samar Ghosh, home secretary G D Gautam and director general of police Naparajit Mukhopadhyay.
The government’s peace initiative comes even as efforts are on to launch an all-out crackdown on Maoists, who are currently regrouping in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia. The process of acquiring smarter weapons is on and the state officials have indicated that they are waiting for a green signal from the government.