In a bid to get talks with Naxals going, the Centre has roped in arrested ideologues Kobad Ghandy and Narayan Sanyal, Swami Agnivesh has revealed to Hindustan Times.
He said the two were helping him to broker a "mutual cessation of hostilities or ceasefire leading to a final agreement". Agnivesh has been acting as a go-between for the government and the Maoists.
"With the consent and facilitation of the central government, I recently met Ghandy and Sanyal jail for around 90 minutes each to discuss how to arrive at an understanding between the Maoists and the government," he told HT.
Sources confirmed to HT that the government had given its "consent" to Agnivesh to involve Ghandy and Sanyal in the talks process with the Maoists.
Ghandy (63), a London-educated chartered accountant and a politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), is in a high security solitary cell in Delhi's Tihar Jail.
He was arrested in February under the tough Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Sanyal (74) is in jail in Raipur (Chhattisgarh). He is an accused in 21 cases including the 2003 attempt on former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu and has been in jail since January 2006.
"My meetings with Mr Ghandy and Mr Sanyal were very cordial and their response was very positive towards the peace and dialogue process," Agnivesh said, adding Ghandy spoke of the need for confidence building measures, including protection of tribal rights and release of political prisoners.
Agnivesh, in fact, wants the government to "release Ghandy and Sanyal on parole to facilit-ate in-depth, face-to-face talk with Union Home Ministry officials who are designated to deal with the peace process."
"I had recently even booked a space at the India International Center to organise a day-long talk among Ghandy, Sanyal, government officials and me, but the Home Ministry refused to release them on parole," he said.
The Maoists, according to Agnivesh, have wanted him to involve "senior leaders" like Ghandy and Sanyal in the talks too.
"Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad---the CPI (Maoist)'s former top leader who it had authorised to conduct peace talks---who seems to have been killed in a fake encounter by the Andhra Pradesh Police in July had wanted talks with senior party leaders and then release of political prisoners," said Agnivesh.
"In my last letter to him on June 26, I had informed him of my talks with Ghandy and Sanyal," he added.
"But they (the government) killed the messenger."