Faced with the inter-State ‘Operation Green Hunt,’ the Maoist leadership said on Monday that it was ready for dialogue only if the Centre halted security operations targeting the outfit for 72 days.
The condition comes within a week of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram saying that the Centre would find ways to facilitate talks with the Maoists if the latter halted violence for 72 hours.
Speaking to The Hindu over telephone from an undisclosed location, Raju, an aide of Maoist Polit Bureau leader Kishanji, said the Maoists were ready to hold talks with the Centre if the latter promised to stop “violence” from February 25 to May 7.
“In reply to the Centre’s condition that they are ready for dialogue if the Maoists halt violence for 72 hours, we propose that we will talk with the Centre only if it stops violence against innocent people in the forest belts across the five States for 72 days,” Raju said.
He added that the Maoists invited the mediation of intellectuals and human rights organisations to facilitate the talks.
There was, however, no clarification as to whether the rebels have dropped their earlier condition for initiating talks when another top Maoist leader Ganapathy had demanded the release of all prominent Maoist leaders from several prisons across the country.
Reacting to President Pratibha Patil’s inaugural speech at the beginning of the Budget session — where she called the Maoists cowards — Raju said: “Over the last one year, security personnel have killed more than 400 Maoists and villagers, injured more than 300, raped more than 50 women and rendered thousands homeless. Are these the signs of bravery?”