Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday offered to hold talks with Maoists for securing the release of the four policemen kidnapped by them during an encounter in Lakhisarai on Sunday and assured the ultra-Left activists safe passage for the negotiations.

“Who says we aren’t ready to hold talks with the Maoists? We have been ready for talks for securing the release of the hostages. We are here and ready for talks. Who wants to come for talks. Come for talks,” Mr. Kumar said on the sidelines of a function here.

Mr. Kumar said “we can decide the agenda for talks. If it has anything to deal within the boundaries of Bihar, I’m ready for talks.”

He said Maoists who were in different jails or apprehended during operations were being properly looked after by the state government and “we expected similar treatment for the kidnapped policemen.

“Whenever a person (Maoist) was injured in action, we ensured best treatment for him. We sent him out of Bihar for treatment”, the Chief Minister said.

“In a democratic set—up, we respect the human rights of any person arrested and we will take care of their health,” he said.

“They hold four policemen captive and it is their duty to protect them,” he said, adding had they been killed in the course of the ecnounter it would have been a different matter.

Mr. Kumar said “holding hostages for the sake of bargain is highlighly objectionable in democracy It is not reflective of either good ideals or good decision... after all, policemen are doing their duty.

“Action keeps happening from both sides. They (Maoists) do and we also do but this thing (abduction of policemen and the reported killing of one of them) is not good”, Kumar said.

“Naxalites are also part of our society... they should do no harm,” Mr. Kumar said.

He said safe passage would be given to Maoists coming for talks as also their travelling expenses. “But it should also be known that the demand of anyone for talks on any issue is within the domain of the state...”