Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday appealed to Maoists at a rally here on Monday to abjure violence and initiate a negotiation process with the Union government.
Ms. Banerjee also advocated the withdrawal of the joint security operations in the Jangalmahal region if Maoists declared a ceasefire.
“For restoring peace in the region, let a process get started. In this precarious situation of violence and misunderstanding, killing someone, irrespective of political colour or profession, is not the solution,” she told a gathering of thousands on the ground of the Ramkrishna Vidyalaya.
“I appeal to everyone, including Maoists, to abjure violence and come to the dialogue table… let Maoists come back to the democratic path.”
Ms. Banerjee said she regretted the killing of Maoist spokesperson Azad, who was instrumental in chalking out a negotiation plan with the Centre, and urged the rebels to resume the process.
She offered to mediate in the peace process through social activists like Mahasweta Devi, Medha Patekar and Swami Agnivesh.
Reiterating her charge that the West Bengal government had not brought in development in the region, she promised to build roads, schools, hospitals, stadiums and even employ the youth of the region in railway coach factories if the people respond to her call for peace.
She announced a Rs. 20- lakh grant to renovate and upgrade the Ramkrishna Vidyalaya.
“If you do not want me to come here, I will not. You could speak to the intellectuals about your demands. I believe that the forest-dwellers should have exclusive rights over the forest. I will request the Centre to bring a Constitution bill to that effect.”
Ms. Banerjee was critical of the Land Acquisition Bill in its current form and asserted that her party would continue to demand changes within the UPA government.
On the anti-Maoist operations, she said the West Bengal government was misleading the Centre and using this as a shield to capture areas and commit human atrocities.