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Ready for talks with Maoists, Kashmir groups: PM

New Delhi: Admitting that Maoist-affected areas in east and central India have seen poor development, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged the guerrillas to shun violence and come for peace talks in a bid to jointly accelerate social and economic progress of the region.

“I once again appeal to Naxalites to abjure violence, come for talks with the government and join hands with us to accelerate social and economic development,” he said.

Calling Maoist violence “a serious challenge to our internal security”, Manmohan Singh however made it clear that the government “will deal firmly with those who resort to violence”.

He paid tributes to the security personnel “who have become martyrs” in Maoist attacks in recent months.

He said the central and state governments needed to work together to meet the Maoist challenge.

“We will provide all possible help to state governments to maintain the rule of law in areas affected by Naxalism.

“It would be very difficult for any state to tackle this problem without cooperation from the centre and coordination between states. We all need to rise above our personal and political interests to meet this challenge,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the tribal-dominated areas where Maoists hold sway “lag behind in development” and vowed to end the “neglect”.

“We want to end the neglect of these areas. I have asked the Planning Commission to formulate a comprehensive scheme towards this end.”

He called upon tribal people to join the mainstream of development.

“They have been dependent on forest produce for centuries and this dependence should not end without the creation of new sources of livelihood. Apart from adequate compensation for land which is acquired from them, we should also ensure that our adivasi brothers and sisters have a stake in the developmental project being undertaken.”

At the same time, “it is very necessary to make the administrative machinery more sensitive in the areas affected by Naxalism.

“The government officials who work there should not only be sincere but should also be alive to the special needs of our adivasi brothers and sisters. It is my hope that the state governments will pay adequate attention to these requirements.”

Peace talks with Pakistan can be taken forward only if it does not support terrorism directed against India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Sunday.

In his Independence Day speech, the Prime Minister said India expected Pakistan not to let its territory be used for acts of terrorism against India.

Pakistan

Peace talks with Pakistan can be taken forward only if it does not support terrorism directed against India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

In his Independence Day speech, the Prime Minister said India expected Pakistan not to let its territory be used for acts of terrorism against India.

“We have been emphasising this in all our discussions with the Pakistan government. If this is not done, we cannot progress far in our dialogue with Pakistan,” he said.

The Prime Minister added: “We want prosperity, peace and harmony in our neighbouring countries. Whatever differences we have with our neighbouring countries, we want to resolve them through discussions.”

Kashmir

The Prime Minister said his government was ready for talks with “every person or group” that abjures violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

Dr Singh maintained that the state “is an integral part of India” and any dialogue in Kashmir would be held within this framework.

“In Jammu and Kashmir, we are ready to talk to every person or group which abjures violence. Kashmir is an integral part of India. Within this framework, we are ready to move forward in any talks which would increase the partnership of the common man in governance and also enhance their welfare,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s latest bid for fresh peace talks comes in the wake of new unrest in the Kashmir Valley that has seen some 55 people killed, mostly in police firing, in the past over two months.

The Prime Minister regretted over the loss of lives in the valley.

“Some young men have lost their lives in violence in Jammu and Kashmir. We deeply regret this. The years of violence should now end. Such violence would not benefit anyone.”

He said: “India’s democracy has the generosity and flexibility to be able to address the concerns of any area or group in the country.”

Mentioning about the meeting he held with mainstream political parties in the state, he said: “We will endeavour to take this process forward. I would like to convey to our countrymen, especially our citizens in Jammu and Kashmir and in the northeast, that they should adopt democratic means to join hands with us for their and country’s welfare.”

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