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Mamata Sets 7-Day Deadline For Maoists To Lay Down Arms

PTI 15 Jan 2010, 23:02:19 IST

After threatening to drive out Maoists from West Bengal if voted to power, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Friday in Jhargram set a week's deadline for the ultra-Left group to give up arms and come forward for talks, failing which she would undertake a march for peace.

 Addressing a party rally here amid tight security ignoring a boycott call by the Maoist-backed PCPA, Banerjee said she would talk to the Centre for a special development package for the area and withdrawal of joint forces if Maoists agreed to talks after laying down arms.

"I have not come here to quarrel with you. I am appealing to you with folded hands and, if necessary, I can even touch your feet to join the mainstream by agreeing to talks after giving up arms", she said.  Banerjee said she was against deployment of joint forces in Jangalmahal comprising West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts but the Centre did not consult her on their deployment. "I also want their withdrawal."

Giving the rebels seven days to decide on the matter, Banerjee said "tell me what kind of development you want -- railway connectivity, jobs, schools, roads, water supply, withdrawal of joint forces, honour for women and restoration of peace in Jangalmahal?"  She said she would wait for seven days and if there was no response from Maoists she would undertake a 'padayatra' in Maoist-affected districts.

She also asked the Maoists to name the place and the people or group with whom they wished to talk. "You need not talk to me. If you do not wish to talk to Chidambaram, you can name the people you want to talk to." PTI