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Chhattisgarh open to talks with Maoists

Chhattisgarh is open to peace talks with Maoist guerrillas if they shun violence, says Chief Minister Raman Singh.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 09:38 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Chhattisgarh is open to peace talks with Maoist guerrillas if they shun violence, Chief Minister Raman Singh has said.

"Leftist insurgency is an inter-state problem as the militants have terror network in 13 states and peace talks by any single state will not solve the problem," the chief minister said in an interview.

"But Chhattisgarh will not mind holding discussion with the rebels if they express keen interest to bring peace and return to democracy," Raman Singhsaid.

"It's solely the responsibility of the Indian government to engage in peace dialogue with the Maoists rather than individual states getting involved.

"I always prefer dialogue but it is necessary that rebels too should come to the discussion table with a lust for peace."

Chhattisgarh is one of India's worst hit states by Maoist violence that has raged since breaking out in West Bengal three decades ago.

Raman Singh added that normally the guerrillas used peace periods to consolidate their bases, citing the case of Andhra Pradesh.

Raman Singh, who sworn in December 2003 as chief minister of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, said a civil militia movement (Salwa Judum) that emerged in June 2005 against the rebels was picking up.

"Salwa Judum is on the right track and the movement has cornered the Maoists in some 40,000 sq km of hilly terrain of Bastar region," he said.

"Salwa Judum is a spontaneous outburst of tribals who have suffered Maoist atrocities for three decades. It will finish them off."

Since the launch of Salwa Judum, about 50,000 tribals from 600 forested villages have left their villages due to threats from Maoists and have settled in a dozen government-run heavily-guarded relief camps in Dantewada district.

Police say about 400 people, including 321 civilians, have been killed in Maoist violence since January in Chhattisgarh.

First Published: Dec 16, 2006 09:38 IST