Govt indicates willingness for talks with Maoists



New Delhi: The government on Sunday indicated its willingness to start the process of dialogue with Maoists but said such exercise would not be fruitful till they abjure violence.

Home Secretary G K Pillai said if the Maoists abjure violence, there was a possibility for dialogue and operation by the government against them was not really a problem.

"We have taken up (the issue). Home Minister (P Chidambaram) has written to (former Lok Sabha Speaker) Rabi Ray. He said please start. We got some reply. Some dialogue, some process is starting. Let us see. But unless they give up violence I don't think it is possible to talk," he said addressing a conference organised by South Asian Free Media Association.

Ray, along with other prominent members of civil society had urged the government to begin a dialogue with the naxals and stop the offensive against them.

Making clear the government's position that it has not asked the Maoists to lay down arms, the Home Secretary said it was just asking the Naxals to abjure violence because a dialogue cannot be held when one side keeps resorting to violence.

"So, if the Maoist say that they will abjure violence, and start dialogue, definitely the operations will not go on," he said, adding, "But I know, as of today, the Maoists are not willing to abjure violence under any circumstances whatsoever".

Pillai said no militant movement in the country had ever come for talks unless they were under pressure and cited the example of NSCN(IM), which had come to the table in 1997, and ULFA, which too had sent emissaries for talks with the Centre a few years ago.

"Only due to pressure. Otherwise they would not come. Why should they come for talks. If I was a militant, if I have arms, my money and extortion is increasing, why should I come for talks. I will come for talks only when I am under pressure. It is a basic principle, no body will come for talks unless he is under pressure," Pillai said.

The Home Secretary, however, said the security forces during its anti-Maoists operations would not fire anybody unless they were fired upon.

"Strategy is very simple, security forces will go to a particular area and clear. Civil administration will follow. But if the civil administration is targeted, there will be a reaction," he said.

The Home Secretary expressed his dismay at not carrying out police reforms in the country for a long time, saying this was one of the reasons for many subversive activities.

Pillai said like Jharkhand where the state government had withdrew nearly one lakh petty cases slapped against the tribals for violation of forests laws, Home Ministry was pursuing with other states to take a similar move.

Pillai also said the elections to the local bodies, including panchayats, in Jharkhand have not be held due to legal complications and expected that it could be solved soon for empowering people at grassroot level.

Referring to decades-old Naga insurgency problem, the Home Secretary said the government was moving positively to solve the issue.

"I believe that if the Naga problem is solved, then the rest of the problem in the Northeast will start falling in place. That has been the base from where all the problems come," he said.

Bureau Report