Church people and social activists have welcomed a proposal for peace talks between the central Indian Chhattisgarh state government and Maoist insurgents.
Fighting will not bring about a lasting solution, said Father Paul Thymoottil, dean of education at Bastar university, welcoming a human rights activist’s initiative for such talks.
Swami Agnivesh, a Hindu reformist, made the proposal at a press conference in Raipur, the state capital, on February 12, a day after he mediated the release of five police personnel the Maoists had abducted 18 days earlier.
State Chief Minister Raman Singh responded by saying he was willing to do anything “in the interest of the people of Chhattisgarh.”
Father Thymoottil says dialogue would help the government understand “the real problems of Maoists.”
The Carmelite of Mary Immaculate priest has chosen insurgency in Bastar as his topic for doctoral studies.
Father Abraham Kannampala, another Carmelite priest, says the peace talks would help usher “real progress” in the region that has enormous natural resources. “Many are afraid to work here due to the conflict,” said the principal of Christ College in Jagdalpur. “Instead of spending enormous money on armed forces, we could profitably spend it on development,” he added.
R. Ajit, a journalist, says the government should take the dialogue offer seriously. “If the Maoists continue their violence, people will not tolerate them,” he said.
Bastar, a thickly forested, undeveloped, tribal dominated region in Jagdalpur diocese, is the nerve center of a Maoist insurgency in the country. The government has deployed special security forces to contain Maoist violence.
The Maoists have killed hundreds of security personnel and tribal people they suspect as police informers as well as destroyed some government infrastructure.
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