'No-tolerance' signals to rebels - State asks Centre to withdraw order recalling one battalion of forces
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- Published 30.09.11
|Mukul Roy at the Nayagram rally on Thursday. Picture by Samir Mondal|
Sept. 29: The state government has sent multiple signals to the Maoists, both from Writers’ and the ground level, that they should be ready to face the consequences if the administration is provoked.
Mamata Banerjee today met the interlocutors appointed to facilitate talks with the Maoists at Writers’ and asked them to convey the message to the rebels that escalating violence in Jungle Mahal “would not be tolerated”. The state government has also requested the Centre to withdraw an order recalling one battalion of the central forces posted in Jungle Mahal, the move hinting at the administration’s hardened stand on the rebels.
At Ground Zero, the chief minister sent Trinamul general secretary Mukul Roy to Maoist-affected areas of West Midnapore to send across the message that the Maoists must not construe as “weakness” the government’s efforts to initiate a peace process. Roy, the junior Union shipping minister, also told public rallies at Nayagram, Shilda and Aguiboni that the state government’s development work in Jungle Mahal would continue.
The government’s tough stand on the Maoists comes in the aftermath of the murders of three persons, including two Trinamul leaders, at the hands of suspected Maoists in the past month.
At the Writers’ meeting, Mamata raised the issue of the recent killings and asked the interlocutors to tell the Maoists to put an end to the violence. Sources said that during the 90-minute meeting, the chief minister wanted to know how serious the Maoists were about the government’s talks offer.
“She asked us to raise the recent incidents (of violence) during our talks with the most important stakeholder in the area (Maoists). There are certain issues that have to be resolved through dialogue,” said Sujato Bhadra, the human rights activist heading the team of interlocutors. He said the government was “keen on talks” with the rebels.
Asked about the discussions with the mediators, Mamata merely said: “It was just a casual meeting.”
In the past month, Trinamul leaders Rabindranath Mishra and Lalmohan Mahato, and Jharkhand Janamukti Morcha leader Rabindranath Bose have been murdered by suspected Maoists in Jungle Mahal. Bose’s murder drew the sharpest reaction from Mamata, who dubbed the Maoists “Jungle Mahal mafia”.
Sources in the government said the state’s request to the Centre to withdraw its order recalling one of the 41 battalions of the central forces posted in Jungle Mahal by October 6 was an “indication of the hardened stand the administration planned to adopt regarding the Maoists in future”.
Chief secretary Samar Ghosh told reporters at Writers’: “We have to keep the existing forces (in Jungle Mahal) intact.” He, however, said the “question of deploying extra forces doesn’t arise now”.
In West Midnapore, Trinamul leader Roy told villagers that “law-and-order problems in Jungle Mahal would be dealt with firmly”. “We believe in dialogue but it should not be construed as our weakness. If there are killings or deterioration in law and order, the government will take firm steps to restore peace,” the minister said at a rally in Nayagram this afternoon.
He said the government would go ahead with its development programmes in Jungle Mahal.
“I have come here as Mamata Banerjee’s emissary to tell you about our planned development projects. Altogether, 126 secondary schools in Jungle Mahal will be upgraded to the higher-secondary level. A bridge will be built across the Subarnarekha river. A number of health centres will be built. We will distribute adequate quantity of foodgrain among the people of Jungle Mahal,” Roy said.
Without naming the Maoists, Roy said: “Why are our party workers being murdered? Why are posters being put up asking Trinamul workers and supporters not to attend party meetings?”
M.K. Singh will replace Zulfikar Hassan as the new inspector-general (western range). Hassan will become IG (administration), the post Singh currently holds.