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Centre refuses direct talks with Naxalites
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, September 21
The Centre today declined to take the initiative to hold direct talks with Naxalite groups and asked the states to adopt their own strategies to tackle the extremist problem.

Speaking to reporters after chairing the meeting of Chief Ministers, Ministers and senior police officials of nine Naxalite-affected states, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil said the Centre would extend all support to the states in their efforts to find a solution to the vexatious issue, including assistance for socio-economic programmes and modernization of police forces.

During the day-long meeting aimed at chalking out a strategy for handling extremism, many of the states, however, called for a uniform policy on the socio-economic problem and wanted the Centre to take the initiative for a dialogue with the ultras. While only the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Jharkhand attended the high-level meeting, the remaining states — Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal — were represented by Ministers and the police top brass.

Patil’s stand assumes significance in the backdrop of the ongoing initiative of the AP government to hold talks with People’s War Group (PWG) and other Naxalite groups. The state government has been trying to involve the Centre in some way in the ongoing peace initiative. The Union Home Minister, however, made it clear that he was not in favour of giving any directions to the state government, as it would create “confusion,” even as he suggested that AP should hold talks without any preconditions with the Naxalites.

In today’s brainstorming session, the Centre sought to assure the states that it would stand by them in whatever steps they took to solve the problem, without directly playing a role in the negotiations.

Patil advised the states to view extremism from the socio-economic angle rather than as a law and order problem.

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