With the suspension of combing operations against Maoists ending on Sunday, the State government is yet to get any information on their surrender.
According to sources, a team of senior officials is closely monitoring the developments and a TV journalist is mediating between the government and the Maoists.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar ordered suspension of combing operations for six days from September 17 after some Maoists reportedly informed the government about their wish to surrender.
S.T. Anjan Kumar and N.S. Channappa Gowda, Deputy Commissioners of Chikmagalur and Dakshina Kannada respectively, said they were yet to get any information about it.
Five persons have laid down their arms since June 19, 2010, when the government announced a surrender policy for Maoists. Four of them were from Chikmagalur.
The government suspended combing operations two days after the Anti-Naxal Force personnel exchanged fire with suspected Maoists in Kaginahare forests in Sakleshpur taluk. The ANF suspects that the group of three spotted there are members of a team led by Maoist leader Vikram Gowda.
Asked if the ANF had any information on the surrender of Maoists, ANF Commander Alok Kumar said: “We have to wait till September 23.”
It is reported that some youths, including a TV journalist, who are familiar with the movement, informed a retired senior police official about the Maoists’ intentions to lay down arms. He conveyed this to the government, following which combing operations were halted. N. Shashi Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Chikmagalur, said senior government officials were involved in the mediation. Asked about the journalist’s role, the police officer said: “I too heard that a TV journalist is negotiating with the government. I don’t have any information.”
The ANF has made a list of 20 people, who, they say, are involved in “unlawful and destructive activities, resulting in spread of panic among the public,” and announced rewards for those giving “information, leading to the arrest of these persons”. Among them, eight people carry a reward of Rs. 5 lakh each on their heads. One person carries a reward of Rs. 3 lakh, while the rest carry Rs. 1 lakh each on their heads.
Hagalaganchi Venkatesh, the first Maoist to lay down arms after the announcement of the surrender policy, told The Hindu that the movement was an outcome of the problems faced by the people in the region. “If the government provides water, power, and builds roads in these areas, it may die down,” he said.