West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s move to stop anti-naxal operations in the state as a precursor to ‘peace talks’ with Maoists finds support in Union home minister P Chidambaram , provided there is no violence.
Making his stand clear over the issue at a time when a section in security agencies expressed concern over Banerjee’s move, Chidambaram on Wednesday said: “As long as there is no violence, I think we should allow the new government to assess the situation and take a position”.
His remarks came two days after the top cops of other naxal-affected states aired their reservation over the move during a special meeting here. Seeking to tread cautiously over the matter, they apprehend that the step would not only provide Maoists an opportunity to strengthen themselves but also turn West Bengal a safe heaven for the Left Wing Extremists from neighbouring states.
Asked about reports on suspension of operation against Maoists in West Bengal, specifically in Junglemahal, Chidambaram said: “The DGP (of West Bengal) told us that the level of violence has come down to nearly zero. And there are, perhaps, suggestions that some kind of talks can take place”.
Asked who would hold the peace talks, he said “these are suggestions in the air”, and nothing much should be concluded from it.
The home minister, however, clarified the actual position on anti-naxal operation. He said it may not be correct to say that operations against the Maoists have completely stopped in the state. “I think intelligence- based operations on a very selective basis are still taking place in West Bengal in affected areas and arms have been seized,” he said.
Referring to the West Bengal police chief’s account, the home minister said these operations were, however, “very selective”.
Earlier, the matter was discussed on Monday when police chiefs of nine naxal-affected states gathered here to discuss the states’ preparedness to deal with Maoists during post-monsoon phase when the ultras usually come out more strongly in their attacks against security forces.
Representatives of both Bihar and Jharkhand expressed their concern, wondering whether the move could turn Bengal into a safe heaven for ultras. They raised the matter, saying Maoists may well flee to neighbouring Bengal as and when they face the heat of security forces in Bihar and Jharkhand.
Police chiefs and senior cops of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh were among those who attended the meeting. Economic Times