The Centre on Wednesday gave the go ahead to Andhra Pradesh government to re-impose the ban on Maoists in the state in the wake of escalating Naxalite violence.
According to sources, Union Home Minister Shivraj V Patil conveyed the Centre’s green signal to the state in a telephonic conversation with Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy.
The chief minister called up Patil on Wednesday morning and informed that the state cabinet authorised him to take all necessary measures, including the option of re-imposing the ban.
Dr Rajasekhar Reddy urged the Centre to impose the ban on the Maoists since the left-wing extremist menace affected more than a dozen states.
However, Patil reportedly turned down the idea saying that maintenance of law and order was a state subject and it was for individual states to impose a ban on the extremist outfits active in their respective areas. The Union government had no objection if the AP government banned the Maoists and other Naxalite groups.
The chief minister held a review meeting with senior police officers on Wednesday morning and asked State Home Minister K Jana Reddy to consult different sections of society on the issue, even as an all-party meeting would be convened in a day or two to ascertain the opinion of political parties on re-imposition of the ban. The views of the MLAs and MPs from the Naxalite-affected districts would also be considered.
Following the killing of Congress legislator Chittem Narsi Reddy and eight others by the Maoists on Independence Day, the state cabinet on Tuesday evening discussed the growing Naxalite violence and authorised the CM to take stern action to check this menace without any delay.
It may be recalled that the Congress government had allowed the ban on People’s War Group and its frontal organisations to lapse in July last year, in pursuit of the peace initiative launched in May 2004 with the declaration of ceasefire by the Maoists to pave way for peace talks. However, after the first round of talks held with Maoist leaders in October last year, the peace initiative was abandoned when both sides reverted to armed confrontation.
Incidentally, the Maoists announced the merger of People’s War Group and Maoist Communist Centre of India in Hyderabad in October 2004 when the underground leaders came overground for the peace talks.
The then Congress chief minister N Janardhan Reddy first imposed the ban on People’s War on May 21, 1992.
After regaining power in 1994, the Telugu Desam government led by N T Rama Rao relaxed the ban but his successor N Chandrababu Naidu reimposed the ban on PWG in July 1996.
The Congress, in its manifesto for 2004 Assembly polls, had promised to hold peace talks with naxalites to find a lasting solution to this protracted problem.
But things were back to square one after the eight-month-long ceasefire crumbled eight months ago.
By Syed Amin Jafri