Social activist Swami Agnivesh has volunteered to broker peace talks between Maoists and the government if the latter announced three months' ceasefire from May 15 to August 15 and halted its “Operation Green Hunt” against the extremists. He was confident that a breakthrough could be achieved and the Maoists made to come to the negotiating table if his proposal was accepted.
“I appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in the issue and he can even appoint a senior Minister like A.K. Antony to oversee the enforcement of the ceasefire,” Swami Agnivesh told The Hindu here on Saturday.
“This cessation of hostilities will end everything and kidnappings too will come to a halt,” he said, referring to the recent kidnapping of Sukma (Chhattisgarh) District Collector Alex Paul Menon on April 21, for whose release negotiations were going on between the representatives of the Maoists and government mediators.
Asked whether he could give a guarantee that the Naxals would not violate the ceasefire during the truce period, he said: “I am quite confident that the Maoists will uphold their assurance and come to the negotiating table if the government is genuine in halting the search operations.”
Swami Agnivesh claimed that the deceased Maoist leaders Kishenji and Cherukuri Rajkumar known as Azad had issued statements mentioning their intention to hold peace talks. But the government did not accept the offer. Dr. Singh, he said, should get himself fully involved in the issue and he could even convene a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the Naxal-prone States — Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra — to find an amicable settlement.
On the Alex Menon abduction issue, the social activist said the Maoists had themselves asked him not to volunteer as the mediator this time as the Chhattisgarh government had humiliated him earlier. A group comprising Special Police Officers (SPOs) of Chhattisgarh and members of the Salwa Judum had attacked him during March last year when he attempted to deliver relief to a village allegedly torched by the security forces in Dantewada district.
In February last year, Swami Agnivesh had mediated and secured the release of five policemen kidnapped by the Maoists.