The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet has authorised Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy to take the decision on reimposing the ban on the Communist Party of India-Maoist in the wake of escalating violence and killings by this left-wing extremist outfit.
Briefing newsmen after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening, Information Minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir said that the cabinet unanimously authorised the chief minister to take necessary steps for the maintenance of law and order and peace and to ensure protection to the lives and properties of people of the state.
The issue of reimposing the ban topped the agenda for Tuesday’s cabinet meeting following the killing of Congress legislator Chittem Narsi Reddy and eight others by the Maoists on Independence Day.
Shabbir said that the state required peace and peace required dialogue. The government had initiated a dialogue with the Maoists with this objective, but the talks broke down due to the refusal of the naxalites to lay down their arms.
The government, he said, had given a chance to the naxalites to seek peaceful redressal of their demands, but they lost the opportunity. “When innocent people are being killed by the Maoists, the government cannot be a silent spectator. We will take necessary measures to put down the violence,” he added.
Shabbir said that the resumption of dialogue was possible only if the Maoists agreed to lay down their arms before returning back to the negotiating table. “Otherwise, how is a dialogue possible if they roam about with arms and indulge in bloodshed?” he asked.
Asked if only Andhra Pradesh would reimpose the ban or the Central government would be asked to impose the ban since other states were also affected by naxalite violence, he said that the chief minister would have consultations with the Central government as well as other affected states before taking the decision.
The minister said that the cabinet gave approval for the proposal to raise an exclusively tribal battalion for which youth from notified tribes would be recruited.
The tribal battalion would consist of 1,206 men, including 10 reserve inspectors, 30 reserve sub-inspectors, 45 assistant sub-inspectors, 277 head constables and 820 constables.
The expenditure on the new battalion, to be deployed in tribal areas to tackle the Maoist menace, would work out to Rs 70 crore per annum, he explained.
By Syed Amin Jafri