Chhattisgarh Maoists offer peace talks in ‘public interest’ (Lead)

January 31st, 2009 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Jan 31 (IANS) Faced with relentless attacks on their forested hideouts, Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh have offered to hold peace talks with the government “in public interest” but police have termed the move a “divisionary tactic”.In a two-page press statement in Hindi, Pandu alias Pandanna, a spokesperson of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), said the group “wants to hold talks with the government in public interest, provided the government takes positive initiatives”.

“Before starting peace parleys, the government should create a conducive atmosphere and stop suppressing tribals,” said the message, sent to media outlets in its stronghold of Bastar in the state’s southern forested region late Friday.

“Over 1,000 tribal civilians have been killed since the launch of the brutal anti-tribal Salwa Judum movement in 2005,” it claimed.

The Maoists’ peace talks offer comes in the backdrop of Chief Minister Raman Singh’s recent statement that the “bullet has never produced a solution to any problem in the world”.

In an initial response to the Maoists’ offer, Raman Singh welcomed it, describing it as “cheering news”.

However, political analysts and experts say the Maoists have offered talks as they are now on the backfoot due to relentless attacks by some 65,000 policemen and paramilitary troopers on their decade-old landmine protected forested hideouts.

“The offer of peace talks is a divisionary tactic of the Maoists. The ongoing anti-Maoist operation has weakened them substantially in their stronghold Bastar,” said Pawan Deo, deputy inspector general of police, special intelligence branch.

Police say around 1,250 people have been killed in Maoist violence in the state since 2004.

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