Dont Justify Extremism Naidu

BY Mohammed Shafiq| IN Media Practice | 18/04/2002
Dont Justify Extremism Naidu

Dont Justify Extremism  Naidu

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu has called for media support for his government`s efforts to end Maoist extremism, saying violence cannot be justified in the name of any cause.

Unhappy with journalists for projecting the extremist movement as a "socio-economic" issue, Naidu asked the media to emulate their counterparts in the United States and rally behind his government in dealing with the problem.

Naidu expressed his displeasure at a news conference here on Wednesday when he was asked whether his government treated the Naxalites, or Maoist extremists, as a law and order issue. The news conference was organised to present 21 surrendered extremists before the media.

"It is not a question of socio-economic problem. All sections of society have to unite to fight the problem of extremism," Naidu said.

"Is there any socio-economic problem behind (Osama) bin Laden`s attacks on the U.S.?" he asked, pointing out how the media in the American was supporting the Bush administration`s fight against terrorism.

Naidu said social and economic problems were bound to occur, but one could not justify killings in their name. "Society is important, not a few individuals," he said.

The chief minister reiterated his appeal to extremists to eschew the path of violence and join the mainstream. He assured them of all help in their rehabilitation. He said the government would slowly withdraw cases registered against the Naxalites once they surrender.

He, however, ruled out stopping operations against the rebels as a precondition to holding talks with the extremists. "As per the Constitution of India I have to maintain law and order. We are ready for talks but we can`t stop maintaining law and order," he said.

The Committee for Concerned Citizens has appealed to the government and the People`s War Group (PWG) -- the most powerful Maoist extremist outfit in Andhra Pradesh -- to find a solution to the problem through talks.

Naidu claimed that impoverished youths in rural areas joined the extremist movement not because of its ideology but because rebels misled them, exploiting their circumstances.

Twenty-one Naxalites have surrendered in the districts of Warangal, Karimnagar and Adilabad in the last few days. All but one of them carried a reward of Rs. 20,000 each on their head. Fifteen of them belonged to the PWG while six were from the Janasakthi and Praja Pratighatana groups.

Some of the surrendered Naxalites spoke on the reasons for their joining the movement and leaving it. The chief minister himself asked them questions, but some of their replies ended up embarrassing him and the police officers present.

Katkuri Venkateswarlu, a district committee member of the PWG in Warangal, said he first joined the group in 1985 and left it within a year. "But it was police harassment after my surrender which forced me to again join the organisation in 1987," the 38-year-old surrendered rebel said. He was accused of nine murders and carried a reward of Rs. 300,000 on his head.

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