Jhargram (West Bengal): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday gave a
seven-day ultimatum to Maoist rebels in the state to choose
between dialogue and arms, while she announced a slew of
infrastructure and development projects for the Junglemahal
Asserting that politics of murder and negotiations cannot go
together, Banerjee said soon after coming to power in May, her
government sought peace, but the ultras did not stop bloodshed.
"We have started the peace process. There has been no joint
security forces' operation for the last four months. We thought
that will help. But we saw murders. Why? We say we want peace.
"In democracy, negotiations can always continue. We are not in
favour of stopping negotiations. But you have to leave arms. Stop
threatening the people," Banerjee said, talking tough.
"I am giving you seven days' time. Think over this. If you want a
peaceful solution to the problem, no issues. We want the doors of
negotiations to be open. This is a last chance. Bloodshed and
negotiations cannot go together," the chief minister said
addressing a largely attended rally at the Jhargram stadium of
West Midnapore district.
She called upon the people of the area to join forces against the
"People should come forward and rally against them (Maoists). They
come from outside, use supari killers to murder people. They only
make money at the point of the gun."
Banerjee had time and again claimed as an opposition leader that
there were no Maoists in the state, and even adopted a soft
approach towards the ultras after coming to power. She also
appointed a team of interlocutors which have held discussions with
Maoist leaders to pave the way for talks between the guerrillas
and the government.
However, Banerjee hardened her stand after a series of killings by
the left radicals since late August.
The chief minister said people, and not guns, always have the
final say in democracy.
Taking the baby of a Trinamool Congress activist Lalmohan Mahato,
who was recently killed by the ultras, in her lap, she said: "What
is the future for this child? What is the future for its mother, a
widow? What is the future for other widows, other families killed
Banerjee said her Congress-Trinamool Congress government wanted
peace. "If there is peace, I can do everything for the region. I
don't want to do anything without peace. I will arrange for jobs,
give you schools, colleges, hospitals. When negotiations are on,
why is blood being spilled?"
Challenging the Maoists to murder her, Banerjee said: "Come on, I
want to see how much guts you have. Why do you hide, come on
bicycles and then flee after committing a crime. I am not afraid
of your rifles. You can murder my leaders also, but if you kill
five of us, five lakh people will be there to fight for the
"Let us come face to face in Jhargram. We won't take the help of
the police, I will be here with my people. Let me see how far you
can go," she added.
Banerjee said the Maoists did not believe in any doctrine. "Those
who use supari killers are goons. They believe in neither Marxism
nor Maoism. Politics of murder cannot be the product of any ism."
On her earlier announcement of recruiting 10,000 people from
Junglemahal in police and National Volunteer Force, Banerjee said
the recruitment process had already started.
She said those who do not get the police jobs, will be enlisted in
an employment bank for Jungemahal and would be given employment
later depending on their specific skills.
Banerjee, who was on her second visit to Junglemahal (the forested
areas in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts where
Maoists are active) since coming to power, laid the foundation of
a Rs.170 crore river bridge project over Subarnarekha, a road
connecting Netai and Lalgarh and increased the procurement price
of kendu leaves to be purchased by the government.
She also announced modernisation project for the stadium, and
setting up of four other stadia, and polytechnic college at
Ramgarh, 31 girls' hostels, four new colleges, a large number of
drinking water schemes, new tourist lodges, vocational training
centres, 20,000 cycles for girls students, two model schools and
5,600 houses for poor people.