AFP. 29 January 2002. Southern Indian state agrees to peace talks with Maoist guerrillas.
HYDERABAD -- The chief minister of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday said he had "formally decided" to enter into negotiations for peace talks with Maoist guerrillas. Chandrababu Naidu told reporters he had decided to accept an offer made by the outlawed Peoples War Group (PWG) for peace talks. "I will call an all-party meeting after my return from the United States in the second week of February. I will discuss things with them and then decide how to go about it," Naidu said. Government sources said the chief minister was likely to call the meeting after February 12. "We have to listen to the wishes of the people. Our strength comes from them so we cannot ignore their desire for peace," said Gadar (eds: one name), a senior idealogue for the PWG. "The gun is not the only weapon of a revolutionary party. One must always be ready for talks." The PWG has announced its readiness to observe a ceasefire from February to create "the right environment" for a dialogue with the state government. They have been waging a two-decade-old campaign against exploitation of landless farmers and against state policies they say are "anti-poor." Civil liberties activists said a conducive atmosphere for talks would be created only if both sides observed restraint. "Violence should first stop from both sides. The police should also not target and harass sympathisers of the PWG in the villages," said K.G Jadhav, a civil liberties activist. In a bid to put down the left-wing insurgency in Andhra Pradesh, the PWG was banned two months ago under a new federal Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO). Under POTO, described as draconian by opposition political parties, any person can be detained on suspicion that he or she may possess information relating to terrorism. In attacks over the past couple of months, the PWG blew up three industrial units, including a dairy plant partly-owned by chief minister Naidu. They also dynamited a granite factory belonging to India's junior defence minister U.V. Krishnam Raju and a coffee-making unit owned by India's leading Tata group. They also destroyed a Coca-Cola bottling plant in the state. In the past year the Maoists have killed 21 politicians and some 50 policemen. The guerrillas had earlier threatened to assassinate Naidu who has vowed to crush insurgency. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barry Stoller http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ProletarianNews