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Be flexible on arms issue, Centre told

By Our Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD, NOV. 28. The Task Force of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), set up to go into the naxalite problem, was decisively told here today that there was no question of the Maoists or Janashakti naxalites giving up arms during the peace talks with the State Government.

S. R. Sankaran, convener of the team of mediators for the talks, made it clear to the panel that the extremists could be persuaded to give up arms "in the process of solving people's problems." He appealed to the Task Force to convince the AICC to take measures to dispel the impression that the Centre was hindering the talks by making the arms issue central to negotiations.

The Task Force members arrived here on a three-day tour of the State to interact with a cross section of people to complete its study. The former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Ajit Jogi, and former Delhi Police Commissioner, Nikhil Kumar, who is now a Congress MP from Bihar, could not come. The panel will visit Medak, Karimnagar and Warangal on Monday and meet the District Congress Committee (DCC) presidents and MLAs from 16 naxalite-affected districts on Tuesday. Mr. Sankaran told reporters that the mediators had suggested that naxalite violence should not be viewed as a law and order problem. An accommodative approach to the movement and Government efforts could be adopted if the issues of land and democratic rights were addressed. They wanted the dialogue process taken up in other affected States also. Emissaries of the Maoists and the Janashakti told the Task Force that a solution to the problem could not be found as long as it was treated as left-wing extremism.

The Maoists' emissary, Varavara Rao, said the combing operations in villages since November 1 were brought to the notice of the Task Force.

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