Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Anti-Naxal ops moving slowly but steadily: Chidambaram

Express News Service Posted: Feb 10, 2010 at 0214 hrs

Kolkata The operations against Maoists were making slow but steady progress, and areas under Naxalite domination would soon be reclaimed and civil administration established, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said after a meeting with officials of four Naxal-hit states here today.

The review meeting of “inter-state and intra-state operations” at Writers Buildings was attended by Chief Ministers Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Naveen Patnaik of Bengal and Orissa, Jharkhand Deputy Chief Ministers Sudesh Mahato and Raghubar Das, and senior officials of the Bihar government.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren could not make it after he complained of chest pain and had to be admitted to hospital in Ranchi. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had prior commitments.

“We have reviewed intra-state and inter-state operations against Naxalites and we are happy to note that we have achieved some good results. Our progress has been slow but steady,” Chidambaram said, flanked by Bhattacharjee and Patnaik at a news conference afterward.

“In fact in an operation like this you can not expect results to be put up on a scoreboard like in cricket. Already a few arrests have been made, and these people are Maoist Politburo members. And despite the claims of NGOs and other groups, there has not been any carnage. Our object is not to kill people... they are our own people.”

Chidambaram said the operations were aimed at reclaiming the ground lost to Maoists, and re-establishing the civil administration. “Once the civil administration is re-established, the chief ministers have assured us that they will rush in with developmental works,” he said.

The Home Minister gave a clean chit to Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, who is often accused by Chief Minister Bhattacharjee of colluding with the Maoists. “Nobody is colluding with Maoists,” Chidambaram said. “No person believing in democratic principles can do that.”

Asked about Banerjee’s criticism of the operations, Chidambaram said, “She is concerned that the general people are not affected by the joint operations, and it’s a genuine concern. We have taken note of her concern and said we would act accordingly.”

He repeated his call to Maoists to shun violence: “I tell the Maoists to abjure violence... Once you halt violence, we are ready to talk to you. My earlier appeals were spurned by them and we had to continue with the operations and if the appeal is spurned again we will again start operations.”

The meeting began an hour later than its scheduled 10.30 am start after Patnaik was delayed flying in from Bhubaneswar. Chidambaram reached Writers’ at 10.20 am, and he was greeted by Bhattacharjee in the portico. Chidambaram had lunch with the two Chief Ministers and two Deputy Chief Ministers at Raj Bhavan before leaving Kolkata in the evening.

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