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BackYou are here: NewsIndia Azad's killing a blow to talks: Swami Agnivesh


Azad's killing a blow to talks: Swami Agnivesh

PTI, Jul 7, 2010

KOLKATA: The killing of Maoist politburo member Azad alias Cherukuri Rajkumar on July 2 was a "serious blow" to peace talks, Swami Agnivesh, who is mediating between the Maoists and the Centre, said on Wednesday.

"Azad was to negotiate the date for talks when he was killed along with a journalist Hemant Pandey. This is a serious blow to the peace process being negotiated for the last two months," Agnivesh told a press conference here.

Reiterating his demand for a judicial inquiry into Azad's death, the social activist said, "I am not in a position to say whether it was a fake encounter or not, but I can say that Azad's death has created an environment of distrust among Maoists and it is the duty of the government create a healthy atmosphere again."

He said on May 11 Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had called him and handed over a confidential letter urging the Maoists to abjure violence for 72 hours and start the process of peace talks, which was communicated to them.

Subsequently on May 31, Azad handed over a letter to him for Chidambaram which stated that the Maoists were ready for talks, but had some conditions, he said.

"The Maoists demanded a mutual ceasefire along with the release of all their top leaders, withdrawal of troops and a halt to Operation Greenhunt," he said.

"On the basis of their communication, I met P Chidambaram and during our discussion, the Home Minister said the Maoists had not yet responded to his call for abjuring violence for 72 hours, which according to him was the basic condition for talks," Agnivesh said.

On the basis on the discussion with Chidambaram, Agnivesh said he wrote to Azad requesting him to appreciate the gesture of the home minister and also requested him to suggest some dates for discussion.

He said he had to go to Australia subsequently but had hoped that after he returned he would receive a positive reply, but on June 4 when he returned he heard about Azad's death.

Social activist Medha Patkar, who was also present at the press meet, alleged that that government was giving favours to corporate entities and multi-nationals for grabbing natural resources and minerals in Maoist-dominated areas.

"People are being evicted when they are protesting," she claimed.