March 21, 2005
From Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 20: The "soft stand" of the Congress government notwithstanding, Maoist leaders feel that Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy has cracked the whip on Naxals with almost twice the force applied by his predecessor N Chandrababu Naidu.
"Rajasekhar Reddy is treading the path of Chandrababu Naidu but the only difference is that the former is using more force on Naxalites. In the last 70 days as many as 70 Naxalites have been gunned down. This means one encounter death every day since January this year. It was not the case during the previous TD regime. At the micro level Rajasekhar Reddy has easily beaten Chandrababu Naidu", Maoist emissary Varavara Rao told this correspondent.
"YSR has betrayed people. The government used talks as a mask to beat Naxalites and supress people's movement. Right from day one we knew the government's real intentions. But we sat across the table for talks as it was people's wish", Virasam president and Maoist representative Kalyana Rao observed.
The anguish of Naxalites is not without reason. Statistics available with the State Home department support the Maoists' claim that the Congress government had actually hit hard at the Naxalites during the past 10 months. "There was no violence from Maoists from June 16, 2004 to January 16, 2005, but the government arrested thousands of people. Innocent villagers are rounded up in the name of curbing Naxalism. The police are now targeting the Naxal district leadership. This way YSR is worse than Babu", Varavara Rao observed.
During the past one year, 12 Naxalites are arrested every day in the State on an average. This is in contrast to eight arrests per day in 2003. While the Chandrababu Naidu regime arrested 2874 extremists including 2354 Peoples' War Naxals (now Maoists) during 2003, as many as 4110 Naxals including 3775 Maoists were put behind the bars last year.
Kalyana Rao squarely blames Rajasekhar Reddy for the break down of talks. "We hold him solely responsible. We do not find any difference between YSR and Babu. They may have differences among themselves. But when it comes to repressive politics, both are one", he said.
And since January this year police arrested more than 300 Naxalites, besides killing 70 Maoists in "encounters". In all about 100 people including 15 politicians died in Naxal violence and police encounters so far this year.
There were 1035 surrenders, 175 Naxal deaths, 173 exchanges of fire, seizure of 287 weapons in 2003. However, the number of surrenders came down to 351 and deaths to 52 in 2004. There were only 71 exchanges of fire and seizure of 103 weapons. The Congress government went slow on "encounter deaths" during the initial days of peace talks.
According to officials, neither the police nor the Naxals kept quiet even during the "cease-fire" period. Between May 14 and November 18 (peace period), the Maoists indulged in 255 violent incidents including four murders and 1007 unlawful activities like wrongful confinement, intimidation and holding of praja courts.
"Since the process of "peace talks", Naxalites committed 1762 violent and unlawful activities including about 50 murders, 18 attempts to murder, 107 assaults, 15 arsons and 24 blasts", points out an official document.
Asked if the Maoists will resume the peace talks process in the wake of AICC president Sonia Gandhi's statement that the State had kept its doors open, Varavara Rao quipped, "the government had opened the doors for the police to kill". The government has played a cruel joke and it is ridiculous to hold talks unless it restores the pre October
2004 atmosphere, he added.
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