Maoists: Ready to talk if Govt. halts operations

Kolkata: The Maoists Monday declared they were game for a dialogue, but the government would have to first halt security operations against them for 72 days. The move comes three days after Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s offer to talk with the rebels if they stopped violence for 72 hours.

Reacting to the Maoist offer to halt violent activities from Feb 25 to May 7, the central government said it was willing to consider the ceasefire as long as it came without preconditions.

“We will consider the offer but it has to be without preconditions,” said Home Secretary G.K. Pillai in New Delhi.

“We will halt our revolutionary counter-terrorism and counter-violence activities for the same number of days and hours that the government halts state terror and state violence against us,” Communist Party of India-Maoist Politburo member Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji said in a statement.

“This problem is not one that can be solved in 72 hours. If the government halts state terror against us for 72 days from Feb 25 to May 7, then we are prepared to hold talks during this period,” Kishenji said.

“During this period the central and the state government should cease all violent activities in the interest of the people and carry out development work in the backward areas and for the people living in the vast tracts near forests,” he said.

Kishenji appealed to intellectuals, human rights organisations and mass organisations to work as mediators.

“I appeal to intellectuals, human rights organisations and mass organisations that if they want to help the cause of the people, they should work as mediators for the talks,” he said.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram had reiterated his talks offer on Friday, saying: “I said give up violence for 72 hours, give me 72 hours to consult everyone and respond to your giving up violence and we will find a way out.”

The Maoists have unleashed deadly attacks against security forces, especially in West Bengal. On Feb 15, the Maoists killed 24 paramilitary troopers in an audacious attack on the Silda security camp.

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