Centre open to dialogue with Maoists, says Jairam Ramesh

Staff Reporter
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Noting that the situation in West Bengal’s Maoist-affected Jangalmahal had improved, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh reiterated on Saturday that the Centre was open to a dialogue with the Maoists.

Mr. Ramesh, who was addressing a gathering at Lalgarh in the State’s Paschim Medinipur district in the Jangalmahal region, said that “sensitive development” and “political process” was the key to solving the problem presented by left-wing extremism.

“We are telling the Maoists that our government is prepared for a dialogue. Our doors are open for talks,” he said, adding that the government was aware that the extremists had no faith in the Constitution and believed in the doctrine of violence.

Mr. Ramesh said the violence perpetrated by the Maoists cannot be paid in the same coin. “Bullets can be answered through discussions and talks. Bullets cannot be answered with bullets,” he said.

Admitting that injustice had been done to tribals, especially people living in forest areas, Mr. Ramesh said the Forest Rights Act was passed by the UPA government to give title deeds to them.

He said the situation in Jangalmahal had improved with the help of central forces.

“What was the situation in Lalgarh three years ago? How is the situation at present? How was Jangalmahal three years ago? What is the situation now?” he asked.

There has been no major violence in the area since the death of Koteswar Rao, alias Kishenji, Polit Bureau member of Communist Party of India (Maoist) in an encounter with security forces at Burisole forest in the Paschim Medinipur district in November 2011. More than 30 members of the CPI (Maoist) have surrendered in the last one year.

Stating that three districts of the State — Paschim Medinipur, Bankura and Purulia are among the 82 districts of the country affected by left-wing extremism, Mr. Ramesh said, “There is need for action by the central forces, but simultaneously there has to be development, justice and political process.”

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has claimed credit for the improvement in the situation in Jangalmhal.

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