Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Chidambaram says Maoist truce offer bizarre

Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, March 02, 2010
First Published: 23:02 IST(2/3/2010)
Last Updated: 23:05 IST(2/3/2010)

Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said the Maoist guerrillas' truce offer was "somewhat bizarre" because the Leftist insurgents continued to indulge in violence hours after offering the ceasefire.

"I just described the so-called offer of the CPI-Maoist as bizarre. That is because, barely three hours after the so-called offer, the CPI-Maoist attacked a joint patrol party of the West Bengal police and the CRPF in Lalgarh," Chidambaram told reporters about Maoist guerrilla leader Kishenji's ceasefire offer for 72 days.

Kishenji, a politburo member of the outlawed Communist Party of India (CPI)-Maoist, last Monday asked the state and central governments to stop anti-insurgency operations from Feb 25 to May 7 and "concentrate on development of tribal areas which will be reciprocated by Maoists".

The government rejected the offer, and instead the home minister asked the guerrilla leader to abjure violence and come for talks "without ifs and buts".

Presenting the monthly report of his ministry before the media, the home minister recalled three people were killed in that shootout.

"In the seven days since then (the offer), there have been 18 significant acts of violence in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. These include landmine blasts, killing of civilians alleged to be police informers, attack on police parties, ambushing of trucks and other vehicles, and blasting of school buildings. I may point out that 11 lives have been lost," he said.

The home minister said he had earlier offered to facilitate talks with the banned CPI-Maoist provided the insurgents abjured violence.

"There was no meaningful response to that offer. Nevertheless, Feb 23 (a day after Kishenji's offer), I responded that if the CPI-Maoist made a short, simple and unconditional statement that they would abjure violence, the government would be prepared to hold talks with them. I have received no response to my statement," Chidambaram said.

While Chidambaram gave a fax number for the Maoists to issue their "short, simple" statement abjuring violence, Kishenji gave through a media conference a cell number on which he wanted the government to contact him with details of when and where to hold the talks. The half-hearted initiative collapsed.

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