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PM calls Maoist guerrillas for talks


New Delhi : Admitting that Maoist-affected areas in east and central India have seen poor development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday urged the guerrillas to shun violence and come for peace talks in a bid to jointly accelerate social and economic progress of the region.

“I once again appeal to Naxalites to abjure violence, come for talks with the government and join hands with us to accelerate social and economic development,” he said in address to the nation on Independence Day.

Calling Maoist violence “a serious challenge to our internal security”, Manmohan Singh however made it clear that the government “will deal firmly with those who resort to violence”.

He paid tributes to the security personnel “who have become martyrs” in Maoist attacks in recent months.

He said the central and state governments needed to work together to meet the Maoist challenge.

“We will provide all possible help to state governments to maintain the rule of law in areas affected by Naxalism.

“It would be very difficult for any state to tackle this problem without cooperation from the centre and coordination between states. We all need to rise above our personal and political interests to meet this challenge,” he said.

The prime minister said the tribal-dominated areas where Maoists hold sway “lag behind in development” and vowed to end the “neglect”.

“We want to end the neglect of these areas. I have asked the Planning Commission to formulate a comprehensive scheme towards this end.”

He called upon tribal people to join the mainstream of development.

“They have been dependent on forest produce for centuries and this dependence should not end without the creation of new sources of livelihood. Apart from adequate compensation for land which is acquired from them, we should also ensure that our adivasi brothers and sisters have a stake in the developmental project being undertaken.”

At the same time, “it is very necessary to make the administrative machinery more sensitive in the areas affected by Naxalism.

“The government officials who work there should not only be sincere but should also be alive to the special needs of our adivasi brothers and sisters. It is my hope that the state governments will pay adequate attention to these requirements.”