During his tenure as Home Minister P. Chidambaram has received 33 mercy petitions and all but one have been submitted or resubmitted to the President.

At his monthly press conference here on Saturday, Mr. Chidambaram said 32 mercy petitions had been submitted or re-submitted to the President, who took a decision in 15 cases, itself a record for any President for any period of three years.

The mercy petition of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru was pending with the President.

On the recent abduction by Maoists in Odisha, Mr. Chidambaram supported the State government's steps to secure the release of an Italian and an MLA. “Only course available to the Odisha government is to hold negotiations with the extremists for the safe release of the two hostages. There are two people in captivity, so the State government is right in appointing interlocutors to talk to the CPI (Maoist) or any other group that may have abducted the persons.”

Mr. Chidambaram said he had spoken to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik several times, and Union Home Ministry officials were in regular touch with the Odisha government officials to ease the situation.

On the Centre's offer of talks with Maoists, he said the offer was made several times in the past, but the extremists had to suspend violence once they agreed to talks. “It is not that we don't speak until Maoists abjure violence. We have made them an offer of talks and we said please come for talks. The condition is that while we talk, they should not indulge in violence. They have rejected that offer. The onus is upon them to say that while we welcome the talks, while we are talking, there should not be any violence. Is that an unreasonable stipulation?”

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