Jhargram (WB), Jul 12: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today asked Maoists to join the mainstream by laying down arms and promised that her government would provide them compensation and take care of their families.
“Surrender your guns. You will get compensation and the government will take care of your families. Stop individual killings. If you have to take up arms, take it up for the country,” she told a public rally here on her first visit to ‘junglemahal' after becoming chief minister. “Friends, return to the mainstream and the government will look after you. I have faced guns. Which is mightier, guns or the people? If there is no peace, development cannot take place. You cannot procure food with guns,” Banerjee said. “Help rebuild junglemahal by creating an atmosphere of peace and security,” she said.
Referring to the potential of junglemahal, comprising West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts and its greenery, she said it has to be tapped for overall development of the area and violence should cease. “If there is no peace, Who will come forward to work for you? It is the prerequisite to work for peace to help rebuild junglemahal”.
Banerjee, who had campaigned vigorously for the withdrawal of joint forces from junglemahal in the run-up to the May Assembly elections, indicated that the central paramilitary forces would stay on.
“The joint forces will not harm people. They will not act against the innocent. Those doing no wrong have nothing to fear from the joint forces,” she said at Nayagram earlier. “I want people to return to their homes and not hide in jungles. I want the police to treat the people with respect,” Banerjee said.
She announced compensation of Rs one lakh each to women who were victims of police atrocities in 2008. Maoists had set off a landmine at Salboni in the district when former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was returning in a convoy in November, 2008.
Subsequent police raids triggered protests leading to the formation of the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities and the start of the problems in junglemahal. Announcing packages and projects for junglemahal, she said rice at Rs two a kg would be provided to those with an annual income up to Rs 42,000, annually. The state government, she said, would increase the number of old age pensioners from 8,809 to 75,205 and also provide cycles to school girls from class IX to XII. The chief minister said that a decision has been taken to provide jobs to 10,000 persons from junglemahal in the police and national volunteer force besides in special police constable posts.
“They will work directly under the home department,” she said, adding jobs will also be given to 1,800 Santhali-speaking people. PTI