Maoists called for a 48-hour ’Bharat Bandh’ from July 7 to protest the killing of their senior politburo member Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad at Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh by the police, top Maoist leader Kishenji said today.

Railways, milk, ambulance and fire services have been exempted from the shutdown.

Kishenji claimed that Azad, the Maoist spokesman, was arrested from Nagpur along with another Maoist Sukdeb and taken 150 kms away to Adilabad where both were shot dead.

Kishenji told PTI from an undisclosed location that Azad had been proceeding to Dandakaranya for a meeting of the CPI (Maoist) central committee when he was caught by the police.

He said the top ultras were to attend the central committee meeting to discuss developments in the context of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s recent communication to Swami Agnivesh on talks with the Maoists.

Criticising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, he said, “It is apparent that the Centre does not want talks, because it is speaking of dialogue and yet killing our members.”

With Azad’s killing on July 2, six of the 13 Maoist Politburo members have either been eliminated or were behind bars, he said.

Speaking about the Chief Minister’s meet convened on July 24 to decide on use of Indian Air Force for anti-Maoist operations, Kishenji said the IAF should not be used against poor people.

“You are Indian citizens, you should not use your guns on the poor,” he said in an appeal to IAF personnel.

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