`All we want is peace'

Print edition : August 13, 2004

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy continues to keep his cards close to his chest as far as the government's strategy of opening a dialogue process with the People's War (P.W.) is concerned. Excerpts from an interview he gave K. Srinivas Reddy:

H. SATISH

The naxalites have repeatedly asserted that giving up armed struggle is a non-negotiable factor. In such a context, what exactly do you want to achieve through the talks?

Our goal is establishing peace in the State. We have succeeded in that to some extent. They may say that they will not give up arms, but I believe that they will ultimately give up violence and join the mainstream of life.

Are you confident that they will join the mainstream?

We are making sincere efforts to see to it that all extremists join the mainstream.

Although the problem was stated to be of socio-economic origin, it was largely left to the police, while the civil administration never took interest...

This time it will be different. We plan to involve the civil administration actively at all levels of development. We are involving the civil administration in all aspects of development. You will see the difference in the future.

What is the Centre's reaction to the effort to hold talks with naxalites?

It is positive. They only want us to ensure that the law of the land prevails; that the law is enforced. At no point of time can we close our eyes to the necessity of law enforcement.

There is a belief among people that if you strike a deal with naxalites they will not attack Congress workers and, in return, you would go soft on them...

It is meaningless. There is no such agreement. I am bothered about the safety of everyone, including Telugu Desam [Party] workers. Are they not citizens of the country? All we want is peace.

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