India sets conditions for peace talks with Maoists


Indian troops fighting Maoist paramilitaries A massive security operation has been launched against the rebels

Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram has set out a “detailed road map” to initiate peace talks with Maoist rebels.

The proposals are in a letter sent by the minister to a special envoy negotiating with the Maoists.

The rebels were blamed for a train crash on Friday which killed 148 people.

A Maoist spokesman, speaking to the BBC, gave a cautious welcome to Mr Chidambaram’s initiative.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist insurgency as India’s biggest internal security challenge.

Mr Chidambaram’s letter – a copy of which has been seen by the BBC – says that in order for the government to initiate a peace process with the Maoists, they must stop violent activities for 72 hours after which time the security forces will “not conduct any operations” against them.

INDIA’S MAOIST INSURGENCY

Continue reading the main story Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh

  • Violent rebellion began in 1967 in West Bengal village of Naxalbari and spread over rural areas of central and eastern India
  • Led by elusive military commander Kishenji, supported by between 10,000 and 20,000 fighters
  • More than 6,000 killed since rebellion began
  • Worst attacks include 76 killed in April 2010 ambushes in Dantewada; 55 killed in attack on police outpost in 2007

Profile: India’s Maoist rebels In pictures: India train collision

It says that the central government will then consult the “chief ministers of the affected states” to invite the Maoists to hold peace talks.

It says that this process will be initiated once the Maoists announce a date for the ceasefire and “abjure violence”.

At a press conference on Monday, Mr Chidambaram expressed hope that the Maoists would respond to his call for a “structured dialogue” and continue to maintain a “non-violent” position until the talks were concluded.

His special envoy, Swami Agnivesh, has had six rounds of talks with GN Saibaba, a Delhi-based Maoist ideologue, over the last month.

Mr Saibaba told the BBC’s Suvojit Bagchi in Delhi that the proposed road map has “two positive elements”.

“The home minister’s assurances to stop the military offensive in case of a mutual ceasefire are a welcome move,” he said.

“There is a possibility with this kind of an initiative to move towards a comprehensive ceasefire, so on behalf of the party I welcome the ministry’s move.”

Earlier on Tuesday, a Maoist leader said the rebels took “full responsibility” for the safety of trains travelling through areas under their control.

Police say that the the rebels sabotaged a railway line and caused the derailment of the Calcutta-Mumbai express in West Bengal.

The Maoists denied the charge, but spokesman Comrade Akaash said they would investigate whether any rebels were involved.

Railway officials in eastern India have cancelled night trains in Maoist-affected areas after Friday’s incident.

Posted via web from Street_Visuals

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