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Ban on People's War lapses

By Our Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD, JULY 21. The State Government has allowed the ban on the militant People's War and its six frontal organisations to lapse. The Government has decided not to extend the ban, due to expire on Thursday, as a prelude to "direct" talks with representatives of the outfit. Simply put, the move means lifting it.

The announcement to the effect by the Home Minister, K. Jana Reddy, today capped detailed discussions with PW emissaries and members of the monitoring committee, which includes civil liberties activists and senior journalists, and consultations with the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

Mr. Jana Reddy told reporters that the modalities and other logistics for the talks would be finalised in two or three days and made public. The Government decision would also apply to the PW wings — Radical Students Union, Radical Youth League, Singareni Karmika Samakhya (SIKASA), All-India Revolutionary Students Federation, Dandakaranya Adivasi Kissan Mazdoor Sanghatan and Andhra Pradesh Rythu Coolie Sangham.

Mr. Reddy consulted the PW emissaries — Gaddar, Varavara Rao and Kalyan Rao — and the mediators named by the Government — K.G. Kannabiran, S.R. Sankaran, Potturi Venkateswara Rao, A.B.K. Prasad, Keshav Rao Jadhav, Bojja Tarakam and Seshaiah — before announcing the lifting of the ban. All of them favoured the removal of the ban to ensure a cordial atmosphere for direct negotiations with the PW.

The ban on the PW was first imposed on June 22, 1992, during the rule by the Congress Government led by N. Janardhan Reddy. It was lifted on June 21, 1995, by N. T. Rama Rao after the TDP returned to power. It was reimposed by his successor, N. Chandrababu Naidu, on July 22, 1996. The ban was formally renewed every year throughout the period it was in force.

Mr. Jana Reddy said the PW could now carry on any activity as a legal organisation. The Government would give it permission to hold meetings and rallies as in the case of other mass organisations if it made applications.

The Home Minister maintained that the Government and the PW were making sincere efforts for talks to end the two-and-a-half-decade-old strife, which claimed hundreds of lives, and restore peace in the State. He hoped that the PW would recognise the spirit with which the Government initiated the talks.

Discussing the probability of other State Governments also taking a decision to lift the ban on the PW, Mr. Reddy said that Andhra Pradesh was willing to share information with them.

Parties welcome decision

The State Government's decision to lift the ban on the PW was welcomed by major political parties.

Speaking to reporters on behalf of the TDP, the former Home Minister, T. Devender Goud, said "any effort to restore peace in the troubled land is welcome. The Government has taken a decision to hold talks with the naxal groups to seek a solution to the problem. It is only appropriate that mutually complementary moves are made. "

The TRS leadership too welcomed the move. The BC Welfare Minister, V. Laxmikantha Rao, said his party was "all for peace and Telangana can heave a sigh of relief." The CPI (M) secretary, B.V. Raghavulu, hoped the decision would pave the way for a peaceful atmosphere. The CPI floor leader, Ch.Venkat Reddy, said it was a move in the right direction.

The former PCC president and Endowments Minister, M.Satyanarayana Rao, a protagonist of the talks, said: "We have to lift the ban. There is no other go. Intellectuals and emissaries are all seeking it. It is for the good of the people that this must be done." he added.

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