“We are not asking you to do anything more. If you halt violence we are prepared to talk to you on any matter that is of concern. But the condition is that you must halt violence,” Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram told Maoists on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, our past appeals have been spurned,” he said after a meeting that discussed the ultra-Left extremist problem being faced by four eastern States.The operation against naxals would be a careful, calibrated and controlled one whose progress could not be measured like the score board of a cricket match — progress would be slow and steady. “Our purpose is not to kill anyone. These [are] our own people and we care for them,” the Minister told reporters.
On the absence of Bihar and Jharkhand Chief Ministers Nitish Kumar and Shibu Soren at the meeting, Mr. Chidambaram said he was in constant touch with them and unnecessary inferences should not be drawn. “The Bihar Chief Minister had a prior appointment and the Jharkhand Chief Minister, I am told, had to be hospitalised today [Tuesday]. But he is fully on board.”
Two Deputy Chief Ministers from Jharkhand were present and there was no Minister from Bihar. Senior police and administration officials from West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar participated in the meeting.
The meeting discussed the inter-State operations between West Bengal and Orissa and between West Bengal and Jharkhand. “Decisions were taken and these will be implemented when I get back to Delhi,” he said.
Intra-State operations were on in West Bengal and Jharkhand and there was considerable progress in tackling the naxal problem in Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. Contrary to fears expressed in a section of the media and by some NGOs, there was no carnage and both the Central and State forces were acting with great restraint. “Unless they are fired upon, they do not fire. The purpose of the operations is not to kill anyone, these are our own people. We care for them,” he said.