Centre query on rebel stand
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- Published 8.10.11
Calcutta, Oct. 7: The Centre has asked the Mamata Banerjee government whether Maoists testing the waters for a dialogue with state-appointed interlocutors have the approval of the outfit’s central leadership, sources said.
The Union home ministry in a missive has also sought details on the conditions laid out by the Maoists for a month-long ceasefire. The move by the rebels came days after Mamata announced that she has given police a free hand to curb violence in Jungle Mahal.
The Maoists, in a statement issued on October 4, offered the ceasefire and demanded that the state government suspend operations against them and disarm other groups operating in Jungle Mahal.
“The Centre also wants to know if the Maoists involved in talks with the government-appointed interlocutors have the sanction of their high command. We have been asked if those being spoken to are in co-ordination with the CPI (Maoist) politburo,” said a Writers’ source today.
The Centre’s move was attributed by a state official to the fact that Maoists are active in other states as well.
The new government had virtually suspended raids by the joint forces, using the window of an unofficial ceasefire to launch development initiatives in Jungle Mahal and extend a talks offer to the rebels.
However, a series of political murders blamed on the Maoists and reports of divisions within their ranks prompted the government to add some steel to its policy of simultaneously bringing about development as well as holding talks with the rebels.
At a rally in Singur on September 26, Mamata asked the Maoists to choose between negotiations and killings.
“I am in favour of negotiations and have given them enough time. I can give more time but they must make clear what they want. They don’t want development in Jungle Mahal,” she had said.
Mamata this evening chaired a meeting at Writers’ to discuss the government’s strategy in Jungle Mahal. Chief secretary Samar Ghosh, home secretary G.D. Gautama, director-general of police Naparajit Mukherjee and additional director-general (law and order) Surajit Kar Purkayastha were among those at the meeting.
Government sources said it was decided at the meeting that Mamata would wait before she chalks out a definite course of action.
“She will seek details from the interlocutors on the terms laid out by the Maoists. She does not want the Maoists to impede her development agenda,” said a Writers’ source.
Sources indicated that Mamata would announce important projects for Jungle Mahal at her Jhargram rally on October 15. The security operations in Jungle Mahal will continue without further intensification, the sources added.
Last week, the state government had decided to deploy more forces to fight the Maoists, with a focus on area domination.
“The state’s request to the Centre for more troops will be kept in abeyance for now. The chief minister intends to get a better grasp of the situation during her visit to Jhargram before a decision is taken,” the source added.