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YSR firm on continuing talks with naxals

By Our Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD, JAN. 15. The Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, has described the killing of Rudrangi sarpanch and police-naxalite encounters in Dornala and Mahabubnagar as `unfortunate', and expressed the Government's resolve to continue talks with extremists even if it meant `any number of rounds'.

Speaking to reporters today, the Chief Minister sought to know from extremists if they were `just' in killing an innocent sarpanch merely because he belonged to the Congress. Dr. Reddy, however, hastened to add that naxalites were `our prodigal sons', and said the Government would adopt a `parental approach' to tackle this social problem.

He queried whether it was justifiable for naxalites to occupy lands, destroy forests and indulge in extortions and killings instead of ensuring peace for implementation of the issues identified at the first round of talks. He faulted them for opposing the police entering villages, saying that it was the latter's duty to maintain law and order. None should move about with guns in a democracy except the police whose responsibility it was to protect everybody in society.

Plea to both sides

The APCC president, K. Keshav Rao, the Home Minister, K. Jana Reddy, and members of the Monitoring Committee, who met the Chief Minister later on the situation, also described the incidents unfortunate, and pleaded to both sides to halt violence and create a congenial atmosphere for the second round of talks.

The Congress chief, who is playing a leading role in paving the way for the second round of talks, said he was "putting in the best efforts" to bring the "two estranged sides" back to the negotiating table. He attributed the present situation to delay in the second round of talks. The Congress was committed to continuing the dialogue, he said, adding peace was must for implementing the first round decisions such as distribution of land.

Mr. Jana Reddy described the encounters `incidental' as they were happening when the police were chancing upon naxalites at some places and the latter tried to extort money. The naxalites should not think that the police were aiming only at them. They were taking measures against factionists and the mafia also.

Protection for citizens

Asked about steps taken to restore normalcy and ensure protection to MLAs, he said police protection would be given to every citizen. He said a written agreement on ceasefire was possible only after discussions at the second round. The Government had not referred the encounters to the Monitoring Committee yet. Monitoring committee members led by G. Chakrapani asked naxalites not to act in a manner that would endanger the second round.

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