Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee’s efforts to restore peace in Jangalmahal area constituting West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura districts hit a roadblock on Friday as the Maoists, in an open letter to the West Bengal Chief Minister, rejected the peace talks contending that joint operation and talks can’t go hand-in-hand.

The letter reads: “We are also serious about the peace talks and want cease fire. We had raised some issues with the interlocutors in this regard. State government must stop the joint operation against the Maoists.”

The Maoists’ letter is being seen as a reply to Ms Banerjee's recent statement regarding the political killings in Jangalmahal - allegedly by the Maoists - that talks and killings cannot continue at the same time.

Significantly, after assuming the office, Mamata Banerjee had appointed a committee of interlocutors to mediate with the Maoists. But her recent outburst against Maoists and their angry letter are setting the stage for a face-off.

Since September 20, Maoists have killed 3 persons including 2 Trinamool Congress leaders that had infuriated the Chief Minister. Mamata has been hardening her stance against the Maoists after a spate of political killings.

“Who has given you the right to kill? I am all for negotiation, so I have given lot of time. I will give more if you want. But you will kill people and negotiate that cannot be. You have to choose one,” she had said.

State government had not withdrawn the central forces deployed in the Maoists bastion of Jangalmahal.

Interlocutor Sujato Bhadra said, “The government has told us to proceed with peace talks, but there are certain issues which are to be raised before the stakeholders.”

JPN/Bureau