New Delhi, Mar 31: The Centre today said Odisha government was rightly talking to the Maoists for the safe release of an abducted Italian and an MLA and any decision on using force to rescue them has to be taken by the state.
Home Minister P Chidambaram said the only course available to Odisha government was to hold negotiations with the extremists for the safe release of the two hostages.
“There are two people in captivity so the state government is right in appointing interlocutors to talk to the CPI (Maoists) or any other group that may have abducted the persons,” he said at a press conference here.
Chidambaram steered clear of the issue of carrying out any offensive against the abductors to rescue the Italian tour operator and the ruling BJD MLA.
“If you are suggesting that some action should be taken using security forces, that is not a matter to be discussed in the public. And that is a decision the state government has to take having regard to all the facts and circumstances. They are the best judge of that,” he said.
The Home Minister said he and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik have spoken to each other several times and the Home Ministry officials are in regular touch with the Odisha government officials to ease the situation.
“I have offered him (Patnaik) any assistance that he may require.... The Chief Minister has acknowledged that his officers and Government of India officers are in constant touch with each other. They did not ask for any specific assistance. They of course have asked for sharing of any intelligence and as you know intelligence is being shared on daily basis and sometimes it has been shared more than once,” he said.
Asked whether it was not contrary to the central government's stand (that it would talk to the extremists once they abjure violence) by engaging with the Maoists now, Chidambaram said “it is not that we don't speak until they abjure violence. We have made them an offer for talks and we said please come for talks”.
“The condition is that while we talk, they should not indulge in violence. They have rejected that offer. The onus is upon them to say that while we welcome the talks, while we are talking, there should not be any violence. Is that an unreasonable stipulation? While the government of India or state government engages the CPI (Maoists) in talks, surely there should be no violence,” he said.