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PW leaders come overground for talks

DORNALA (PRAKASAM DISTRICT), AP, OCT. 11. The People's War (PW) and the CPI-ML (Janashakti) today took a significant step towards peace talks with the Andhra Pradesh Government with its top leaders emerging from the underground. The talks are slated for Friday, October 15.

Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna, State secretary of the PW, led the other naxalite leaders when they walked out of the thick Nallamala forest near Srisailam, suspending their two-decade-long war against the State.

Accompanied by a platoon of the "People's Guerilla Army" (PGA), clad in olive green uniforms, Ramakrishna, Amar, State secretary of the CPI-ML (Janashakti), Ganesh, North Telangana special zonal committee, Sudhakar, Andhra-Orissa border special zonal committee, Riyaz, Janashakti State committee member, and others surfaced near China Arutla, a remote tribal hamlet on the Dornala-Srisailam road at 10 a.m.

Symbolic gesture

In a symbolic gesture, Mr. Ramakrishna handed over his AK-47 rifle to members of the PW "military platoon" and shook hands with them amid slogans of Lal Salaam (red salute) before they withdrew into the forests. The leaders later drove in a fleet of vehicles to Guthikonda Bilam, about 200 km away, in Guntur district, where the PW and Janashakti participated in a public meeting.

All along the route, the naxalite leaders' convoy was stopped by people waiting to have a glimpse of them.

Speaking to the media contingent waiting on the fringes of the forest at China Arutla hamlet, Mr. Ramakrishna said they did not believe that the Government would accept all their demands.

The PW would insist on ending the World Bank-promoted model of development, which led to the exploitation of the under-privileged. Also, it would stress the need to distribute land to the landless.

`Peace talks'

Mr. Ramakrishna was optimistic about the "peace talks." Any relief coming out of the process would be a moral victory for the people and hence "our victory".

The PW and Janashakti leaders claimed that the State Government had agreed to a dialogue ``under pressure from the people.'' Also, it had realised that people's struggles could not be suppressed.

Mr. Ramakrishna said the "follies" which were responsible for the defeat of the Telugu Desam Party led by N. Chandrababu Naidu, were being committed by the Congress Government.

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