New Delhi: After the brutal massacre of Congress leaders by the Naxals in Chhattisgarh, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has said that Maoists are terrorists as they instill terror and fear in people.
"The Maoists extort money from government contracts. You must treat them not as ideological Don Quixotes, but as extortionists. Anybody who spreads terror, is a terrorist," Mr Ramesh told NDTV.
Mr Ramesh said he hopes the incident will be a turning point in the fight against Maoists. "Such incidents are wake-up calls. Our central security forces have had some success against them in West Bengal, in Odisha, in Jharkhand. But the primary security base has to be the state police, not the CRPF. You can't always shift blame on Centre. If Andhra can have Greyhounds, why can't Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand or Odisha?" he said.
Mr Ramesh also said that the Maoists see political engagement and development as a threat, and they thrive on isolation and infrastructure deficits.
"This particular carnage is anguishing. The Maoists are on the defensive, they've had major reverses in West Bengal and Odisha. Mr Chidambaram, when he was the Home Minister, said don't give up arms, don't give up ideology, come forward and talk. But no one came forward for talks. If you want to participate in Lok Sabha elections, panchayat elections, you must decide in taking part in the political process. It is clear that Maoists don't believe in political process. Why don't they do an Arvind Kejriwal?" the minister said.
On Saturday, around 250 Naxals attacked a convoy of 25-odd cars carrying Chhattisgarh's top Congress leaders after a rally. Twenty four people, including state Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel and another party leader Mahendra Karma, were massacred.
The government believes, sources said, that Saturday's attack was in retaliation to a series of setbacks to the Naxals in the region over the last few months; they have lost about 40 men in anti-Naxal operations by security forces.