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BackYou are here: NewsIndia Intellectuals and Rights Groups Urge Centre to Enter into Peace Talks


Intellectuals and Rights Groups Urge Centre to Enter into Peace Talks

New Delhi: Days after the Maoists appealed to intellectuals and human rights groups to play the role of a mediator, a group of civil rights activists - among them were writer Arundhati Roy and Justice Rajinder Sachar - have come forward asking the government to "reciprocate" the offer for ceasefire proposed by the Left-wing insurgents.

Heeding to the appeal of elusive Maoist leader Kishenji to step in, the intellectuals said they welcomed the announcement by the Maoists to observe a ceasefire and their readiness to enter into talks with the Government. "The Government should halt Operation Green Hunt immediately and respond to the offer made by Maoists," Justice Sachar said.

In a possible mediation effort, the intellectuals said they have sent a letter to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi pointing out the need for the Government to reciprocate and would be writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a day or two placing their views on the issue and seeking an appointment with him.

Roy told The Indian Express that the effort should be seen as an attempt "to create an atmosphere" for possible talks and cessation of hostilities. Asked about Kishenji's appeal to intellectuals and civil rights groups to mediate, she said the appeal was general, but "what we are trying to do is to create an atmosphere in which something can happen".

G N Saibaba, one of the signatories of the letter, however told The Indian Express that the intellectuals were responding to the statement of Kishenji. "We are trying to talk to the Government. We will write a letter to the Prime Minister in which we will express our views. We are also trying to seek an appointment with him," he said.

Saibaba, a professor of the Delhi University, is one of the civil rights activists whose name figure as Naxalite sympathisers in the chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police against arrested Maoist leader Kobad Ghandy. He had earlier termed it as an attempt to silence voices of dissent in a democracy.

Kishenji had on February 22 made a conditional ceasefire offer asking the government to halt the offensive against Maoists for 72 days. Responding to the offer, Home Minister P Chidambaram had made it clear that the government will not accept any pre-conditions for talks.

Calling themselves the "concerned citizens", the group which include among others Prashant Bhushan and S A R Geelani asked the government to halt all paramilitary armed offensive operations immediately.

"We are of the view that the Central government, and not the state governments, should be the authority to conduct talks as the problem covers various states," they said

(The Indian Express, 1st March)