The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naidu beckons rebels to table

Hyderabad, Oct. 17: N. Chandrababu Naidu has said he is ready to talk to Naxalites whenever they want if they stop opposing development, come to the mainstream and hold a dialogue without preconditions.

The Andhra Pradesh chief minister said the extremists should give peace a chance, but warned that he would not tolerate any violation of law and order.

Naidu, who was addressing a news conference at the state secretariat — the first since he survived an assassination attempt at Tirupati on October 1 — added that Naxalites had not respected earlier truces.

He said people should not cooperate with the extremists, who had always exploited the backwardness of villages to further their own violent ends.

The chief minister returned here this morning after a special darshan of the deity at Tirupati. During his time there, Naidu visited the flower beds where the Naxalites had planted six claymore mines along the route he had taken to the temple earlier this month.

He pointed out the spot where his car was struck by the mines to his wife Bhuvaneswari and others travelling with him.

Naidu was upset with police for keeping away people when he landed in the temple town last evening. The police had stopped pilgrims from moving on the Ghat road and had sanitised the entire route three hours before his arrival. But later, on Naidu’s instructions, visitors to the temple were allowed to come up to him.

To make it difficult for extremists to communicate with each other, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam today decided to ban mobile phones near the hill shrine.

Cellular phone companies will soon be asked to remove their telephone towers from the hills in an attempt to prevent extremist attacks in future, the Devasthanam executive officer, Ajeya Kallam, said.

The decision has been taken on the advice of security adviser S. Subramaniam, who is conducting a high-level inquiry into the October 1 blasts.

Naidu said only persistent “people’s awareness programmes” could help curb terrorism and extremism. “My elimination will not help the PWG in any manner as it will not stop the pace of development,” he added.

The chief minister said during his eight years in power his government had managed to keep communal strife, extremism and factional fights in villages largely in check. He said the police were no longer seen as enemies in the villages.

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