Friday, December 18, 2009

Efforts on to initiate dialogue with Naxals

Rajat Roy / Kolkata December 18, 2009, 0:40 IST

While an operation is on to destroy the infrastructure of the Naxalites in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, a move is also being initiated for a dialogue.
From tomorrow, a two-day session will be held at Delhi with some human rights activists to chalk out the talking points before the Naxalites are approached formally. Though the meeting is being held under the aegis of a newly formed Delhi Policy Study Group, it appears to have the Union home ministry’s blessings. The meeting will be chaired by veteran journalist B G Vergese and attended by noted Gandhian Himangshu Kumar from Chhattisgarh, activist and social scientist Radha Kumar, Haragopal from Andhra, Shankar Sharma from Jharkhand, Sujato Bhadra from West Bengal and some other known activists.

According to Bhadra, the agenda is to evolve a strategy for starting a dialogue with the Naxalites (CPI-Maoist). Once the major talking points are agreed, the body will approach the Naxals. The main problem is that they have been waging a war against the state, notes Bhadra. Unlike the ULFA in Assam, where the main contentious issue was their demand for sovereignty, here the situation is complicated. If an outfit is determined to overthrow the elected political power and capture state power by armed process, how could one initiate a dialogue with that?

Bhadra argues, “So, perhaps at the initial stage we will have to make them agree to reduction of violence. If they agree to stop the indiscriminate killings of people (both security personnel and ordinary villagers), then we can ask the government to suspend Operation Green Hunt (the supposed term for the official offensive) for the time being.”

Another concern is to make the Naxals agree to some formula whereby state-sponsored development works could be started in the areas under their influence. The idea is to make the Naxals understand that the continued attempt to resist all pro-poor development work in tribal areas would ultimately alienate them from the poor.

Once the Naxals are agreed on certain points, then a monitoring mechanism would have to watch how things are taking shape and another mechanism for regular meetings between the state and the Naxals to sort disputes in these areas.

Bhadra agrees that much will depend on how the Naxalites respond to these initial attempts. It is possible that some representatives of the Centre will also attend the Delhi meeting.

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