Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Sunday ruled out withdrawal of security forces from Maoist-affected areas in the state. He said the newly-elected Congress government will hold dialogue with people affected due to Maoist activities, PTI reported.

“The Naxal problem cannot be tackled with the barrel of a gun,” Baghel told PTI in an interview. “The use of guns by previous [Bharatiya Janata Party] government to solve the Naxal problem has resulted in its expansion from just three development blocks to 15 districts of the state in the last 15 years.”

Baghel said that though Bastar district has the biggest presence of security forces apart from Jammu and Kashmir, the Maoist problem continues. This shows that the matter must be tackled in a “social-economic-political way”, the chief minister added.

Baghel said that apart from adivasis, the government will also hold talks with “non-adivasis, traders, police, paramilitary forces, social groups, journalists and intellectuals”. However, he added: “There is no question of withdrawing security forces. Whatever system is going on, will be continued till further strategy is devised. The immediate withdrawal of forces can prove to be suicidal.”