AP naxal-hunt may ruin talk prospects

Hyderabad | Updated: Jul 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
After a lull, clashes between the Andhra Pradesh (AP) police and Maoists have erupted again, resulting in the killing of eight Maoists in an encounter last week in the Nallamala forests.

Madhav alais Burra Chennaiah, was recently elevated to the post of state secretary of the AP provincial committee of CPI (Maoists), and was carrying a prize of Rs 22 lakh on his head. He was allegedly involved in various crimes in his three-decade association with Maoists (formerly the Peoples War Group), including the attack on former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in October 2003.

Dismissing media reports that it could be a false-encounter, state home minister K Jana Reddy said the police had to resort to firing to maintain peace in the state. He renewed his request that naxalites should shun weapons and continue a dialogue with the government.

According to observers, a fallout of the killings is that the chasm has widened between the mediators and the government. In fact, after the talks broke down the first time, the prospect for another round was remote. Now, with the killing of Madhav and associates, it has become even more remote, said Parakala Prabhakar, director, Centre for Public Policy Studies. In fact, Kalyan Rao, one of the mediators in the first round of peace talks has announced that there will not be any more talks with the government.

In the last few months, the Maoists had been concentrating on neighbouring Chattisgarh. State director-general of police Swaranjit Sen claimed that Madhavs death was a major blow to the Maoist movement. All police stations in the state have been put on high alert and political leaders have been asked to move to safer places. Observers feel that the Maoists will retaliate just to prove that they cannot be cowed down.

Will a potential spurt in violence affect APs investor-friendly image Not likely, say experts. Though naxalism was an issue with many investors, their concerns appears to have diminished to a large extent. Investors are not concerned and need not be because the two issues of violence/clashes with the police and development activities are not linked, says Parakala.

Unlike earlier, when the state government played a key role in peace talks, its the Centre thats playing an active role in containing violence. The reason About 13 naxal-affected states have come together under the aegis of the Centre to tackle the issue.