Government on Friday said it has the legitimate right to use as much force as necessary to regain control of areas dominated by the Maoists and made it clear that talks with it could only take place if the ultras abjured violence.

Terming naxalism as a “graver problem” than jihadi terrorism, Home Minister P. Chidambaram vowed to effectively tackle the threat from Maoists, who have declared a war against the Indian state, before the term of the government ends.

Mr. Chidambaram said the goal of the Maoists was armed liberation struggle and the sole purpose was to seize power.

Referring to the offer of talks made by the government to the Maoists recently, he asked, “Why aren’t the Maoists making a simple statement that we abjure violence?”

He said in such a situation, it was the legitimate right of the government to use as much force necessary to regain the areas and hoped that once the government regains control in two to three years, it would usher in development.

“We are confident that before the term of UPA II ends, we will get rid of naxals and will have considerably strengthened our security to face any threat,” he said addressing the India Today Conclave here.

Mr. Chidambaram described naxalism as a “graver problem” than that of jihadi terrorism and pointed out that they have presence in 200 districts of the country and virtually control 34.

“They (Maoists) have declared a war on the Indian state...They are anti-development. They do not want the poor to be emancipated or become economically free,” Mr. Chidambaram said, adding civil right groups naively think that naxalites are pro-poor.

With the serious threat of jihadi terrorism centred around Pakistan and Afghanistan and also affecting Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mr. Chidambaram said South Asia is, therefore, duty bound to work together to end the menace.

The Home Minister referred to the “splendid cooperation” from Bangladesh in tackling militancy after Sheikh Hasina’s government came to power but expressed concern over recent developments in Nepal where, he said, there was “sprouting of anti-India activity”.

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