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Official panel members question govt approach to Naxal issue

Members of an official panel that had gone into extremism issue have said instead of it telling the ultras to abjure violence, both sides should declare a ceasefire and create an atmosphere for talks.

Kolkata: Questioning the government`s approach towards Naxalite problem, members of an official panel that had gone into extremism issue have said instead of it telling the ultras to abjure violence, both sides should declare a ceasefire and create an atmosphere for talks.

"If the government is serious enough to alleviate the tribal problem, then it should persuade the Maoists to come for talks," former IAS officer Debabrata Bandopadhyay,
Chairman of the panel, told a news agency.

The Planning Commission had set up the expert group on Development Issues with the Causes of Discontent, Unrest and Extremism in May 2006. The panel has already submitted its report on Development Challenges in Extremist Affected Areas.

Observing that the government is taking a "wrong approach", Bandopadhyay said, "The government should not speak of (Maoists) abjuring violence. Both sides should go for a
ceasefire and create a conducive environment so that they can sit for talks.

"Both should leave aside some of their demands and agree
on a negotiable situation. Naxals have to shelve the aim of
seizure of power for the time being and negotiate with the
state in the interest of thousands of poor and innocent
families," said Bandopadhyay, who had played a key role in the
Left Front government`s `Operation Barga` on land reforms.

Maoist leader Kishenji had said earlier that his outfit
was ready to sit for talks on the basis of the recommendations
made by the Bandopadhyay committee.

Prakash Singh, former Uttar Pradesh DGP and a member of
the committee, told a news agency that the government`s move should be
more calculated and well-planned.

"The government should be open for talks, but the offer
should not be given at the wrong time. The Home Minister`s
offer for talks just after the Naxal attack at Dantewada was
unjustified," he said.

"If the government is ready to speak with terrorists of
Kashmir, the ULFA in Assam and extremists all over the
country, then why are they not speaking with ultra-Leftists?"

The Maoists have control over large parts of the country
and so the option of negotiations should always be kept open,
the ex-DGP felt.

Singh said, "If the Maoists believe that they have the
people`s support then they should prove it on the floor of the

"Let Maoist leaders like Kishenji contest elections and
become the chief minister of West Bengal or any other state,
but killing people cannot be a solution to the problem," he

Terming the Maoist problem as a "political" one,
Bandopadhyay said, "The tribals are suffering from injustice
for long because of the failure of the administration to
implement protective regulations in scheduled areas resulting
in land alienation, forced eviction and dependence on money

He said that over 2.40 lakh out of 8 crore tribal
population in the country have been displaced and not yet been
rehabilitated. "Police operation cannot solve the problem."

Even after a year of extensive operations, very few
hardcore Maoists have been arrested, he said. "The arrested
persons are mainly tribals who went to them (Maoists) for some

The government, Bandopadhyay said, should first implement
the laws meant for the welfare of tribals and wean them away
from the Maoists.

The government then would be in a position to dictate the
agenda and then only it could persuade the Maoists to come
forward for talks, he said.


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