Communists protest against Centre's anti-Maoist operation in Kolkata

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Kolkata, Mar 27 (ANI): Scores of Communists took to the streets in Kolkata on Friday to protest against the Central Government's anti-Maoist 'Green Hunt' operation.

Gathering under the banner of the 'Struggling Left Consolidation', the protestors took part in a rally that demanded the suspension of 'Operation Green Hunt'.

"We are opposing it because this is aggression against the people," said Communist Party of India (Marxist-Lenin) General Secretary Santosh Rana.

"The government wants to hand over a large area of land and forest and what-not to multinationals and, for that purpose, it is being launched. So, we are opposing it," Rana added.

Earlier this week, the Maoists had called for a 48-hour shutdown in the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh, and three districts of Maharashtra, protesting against the Union Government's operation.

The Maoist rebels had on February 22 offered a conditional 72-day ceasefire through the media, and said they are willing to talk to the government if it aborts Operation Green Hunt. Many believe the truce offer is a ruse to regroup.

The Maoists contend they are fighting for the rights of the poor, marginal farmers and the landless labourers.

Most Maoist rebels have ignored repeated calls from the government to renounce violence and negotiate. Instead, they have stepped up their attacks in recent months, prompting the government to go after them in a concerted manner.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had on February 12 defended the use of force against the Maoists, saying it was the legitimate right of the government to establish law and order, build infrastructure and set up welfare measures.

He expressed confidence that the Centre would be able to get rid of the Maoist menace over the next four years. Once the areas are cleared of Maoist elements, development work would be pursued expeditiously.

Referring to a reported offer of talks made by the Maoists through the media recently, Chidambaram said, "Why aren't the Maoists making a simple statement that we abjure violence?" (ANI)

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