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Indian academic Saroj Giri on the Maoist offer for ceasefire and talks

The following article by Saroj Giri is from Tehelka Magazine:

WITH MAOIST leader Kishenji’s rather bold offer for ceasefire to the Union government, a new situation seems to be unfolding in the red corridor of heartland India. Seeking to place the ball in the Centre’s court, the 72-day offer clearly seems to trump Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s 72-hour offer. Moreover, it’s the nature of the offer — unconditional, as opposed to earlier Maoist proposals stipulating the release of their key leaders, restoration of land and forests to the tribals, scrapping of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with big investors etc, all major irritants for the government — which begs a serious consideration. Practically the only condition set by the Maoists this time is that the State should reciprocate. This is at a time when reports of the CRPF in Lalgarh killing Lalmohan Tudu of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) in front of his family members on February 22 are filtering in, over and above the initial propaganda about him being killed during an attack on a CRPF camp.

Chidambaram, instead of welcoming the offer to start a process of negotiation and addressing the substantive issues at hand, responded with a presumptuous and hypocritical statement calling upon the Maoists to abjure violence first. The Planning Commission’s Expert Group on Development Challenges in Extremist Affected Areas has argued that the government is engaging in peace talks with other rebel groups like the Nagas even though they have not abjured violence and in fact ‘taken advantage of the peaceful conditions to consolidate their parallel government’. So, they ask, ‘why a different approach for the Maoists?’

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