Maoists offer talks with a rider

The Maoists have demaned a judicial enquiry into the death of their top leader Cherukuri Rajkumar.

Last Updated: Aug 12, 2010, 15:27 PM IST

Kolkata: The Maoists are ready for talks with the Government on the condition that a judicial inquiry be held into the death of their top leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad in a police encounter in Andhra Pradesh in early July, social activist Swami Agnivesh said on Thursday.

"The Maoists have communicated to me through a channel that they are ready to consider the government`s offer of talks provided the Centre or the Andhra Pradesh government orders a judicial enquiry into the encounter," Agnivesh told a news agency over phone.

He said that he had sought an appointment from the Prime Minister`s Office to convey the offer of the Maoists.

"I have just received the offer and have contacted the Prime Minister`s Office and asked for an appointment. Once the prime minister gives an appointment, I will tell him about the offer," he said.

The activist also praised Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for helping to "break the deadlock".
At a rally on Monday in Lalgarh, Banerjee had appealed to the Maoists to renounce arms and hold talks. She had also condemned the killing of Azad. Agnivesh, who had been present there, said, "I praise the courage of the railway minister. She has risen over narrow political gains and this helped in breaking the deadlock."
Agnivesh, who had been acting as a mediator between the Centre and the Maoists when Azad was killed on July 2 in Andhra Pradesh`s Adilabad district, said, "after the killing of Azad I felt that I had been betrayed.
"But the truce offer came from the side of the Maoists. It has happened because of the railway minister`s initiative. It`s very positive," he said.

Asked about Banerjee`s call to Maoists to lay down arms and top Maoist leader Kishenji saying that this was not possible, Agnivesh said "the letter written to me by Home Minister P Chidamabaram on May 11 does not speak of laying down arms.

"The home minister asked Maoists to abjure violence for 72 hours. If the Government is assured that they have abjured violence then it will make a formal offer of talks," he said.

"Once the talks begin there will be no violence and the Government should ensure that there is no anti-Maoist operation during the period," he said.