New Delhi, May 29: Describing Maoists who killed several Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh four days ago as terrorists, senior Union minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday expressed the hope that the "deliberate and meticulously- planned carnage" would be a turning point in the battle against them.
Maoists should not be "romanticised" as they are terrorists because they spread terror, the Minister for Rural Development told a news channel in an interview about Saturday's attack in which 27 people, including Chhattisgarh Congress President and some other party leaders, were killed.
Ramesh, who has generally been against hardline approach towards Maoists, lashed out at them, saying they had no faith in Constitution, democracy or democratic institutions. Theirs was not ideology-based Maoism but it was based on extortion.
At the same time, he said there cannot be any going back on the government's strategy which recognised centrality of security and police operations but also of political engagement. There had to be development programmes to address issues of tribal development.
"From 2004, we have been saying this that this is a law and order issue and this is also a socio-economic issue. Both have to be addressed," Ramesh said.
Slamming the Maoists, he said, "They are terrorists. What else are they? You can't romanticise them. They are spreading fear. They are spreading terror."
He said Saturday's incident was "not just a killing. This is a carnage of unprecedented ferocity. It's a carnage of unprecedented magnitude and it has a political signal associated with it."
Seeking to interpret the message behind the attack, he said, "I think it is a signal that the Maoists are trying to give to the Congress and to other political parties, look this is a liberated zone, don't come here, don't have your political engagement, don't have your gram sabhas and rallies. That's simply an unacceptable state of affairs in India."
He said if Maoists were "so confident of themselves, why don't they participate in the electoral process?"
Ramesh lamented that poor tribals are caught between the guns of Maoists and the security forces.