Not ruling out talks with Maoists: Jairam Ramesh

New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) In the wake of a Maoist attack on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday said he did not rule out dialogue with the left-wing extremists.

“I don’t think we should rule out the option of dialogue. But the question is, whom do you talk to and what do you talk about,” Ramesh told TV news channel CNN-IBN.

He said the strategy for combating the Maoist problem has to continue to be a combination of different elements.

“First, very tough security and police action in affected areas like southern Chhattisgarh. Second, deeper political engagement and political mobilisation by political parties. Third, very sensitive, very integrated developmental intervention to address the problems of tribals. Fourth, redress the injustices, particularly in the case of land reform policy,” he said.

He said that during P. Chidambaram’s stint as home minister, the government had repeatedly asked Maoists to come for talks without laying down arms. “But no talks took place,” Ramesh said.

“From 2004 onwards, this government has consistently taken the stand that this is both a serious law and order issue and also a socio-economic issue,” he said.

Reacting to the brutal killing of Mahendra Karma, who was said to be the founder of the ‘Salwa Judum’ civilian militia, Ramesh said: “I have seen some liberals coming out. This is the wrong time to talk about this issue. There are different views on what Mahendra Karma did.”

The minister said: “These are setbacks (the attack) but we can’t deviate from the path which we have set out on.”

“The CRPF cleared up 900 sq km area in the Paschim Singbhum district. We would have not been able to be doing what we are doing now. We are building roads, giving Indira Awas, creating skills for local youth and other developmental activities, which should have been done 50 years ago. We are just giving the people what was their due.”

Twenty-eight people, including the president of the Chhattisgarh unit of the Congress, were killed when Maoists attacked a Congress convoy in Bastar district May 25.

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