If Maoist guerrillas halted their violence, the government would respond in 72 hours and order a review of all corporate memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and south Bihar, Home Minister P Chidambaram has promised.
Calling "Operation Green Hunt", a proposed armed offensive against Maoist guerrillas, "a pure invention of the media", Chidambaram said: "There is no Operation Green Hunt. Name the officer who has said there is and I will take action against him."
In an interview with Tehelka magazine, Chidambaram said categorically: "I haven't seen a single paper or document in the home ministry with the phrase 'Operation Green Hunt'. It's a pure "invention of the media."
He said the state police, assisted by paramilitary forces and intelligence, would in the months ahead "reassert control over areas where, regrettably, the civil administration has lost control".
The minister denied that the government was calling in the army or the Rashtriya Rifles to flush out Maoist guerrillas in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.
Asked why the government was not taking tribals into confidence and isolating Maoists instead of raising a military offensive against them, Chidambaram said: "Instead of arguing over who is responsible for the violence or who should stop the violence, why don't the Maoists heed my appeal and say, 'yes, we will halt the violence and let us hear the home minister's response'."
"Give me two or three days to respond, because I need to consult others in government, both at the Centre and the states. Once they say, they will halt the violence and they actually do, between their statement and my response which will surely come in about 72 hours.
"You will find that I am in a position to respond in a manner where violence can be ended once and for all and development can take place, and talks can also be held with the (Communist Party of India) CPI-Maoists. But the first step is for them to say, 'we halt the violence'," the home minister said in the interview to be published in its latest issue.
Chidamabaram's bid for peace was backed by another offer of discussing land acquisition, forest rights, industrialisation and local governance.
Asked whether the government was taking control of mineral-rich land and securing it for private companies through MoUs, he responded by saying: "The MoUs have been signed over a period of time with different governments, long before Maoist violence rose to this level".
"Nevertheless, I am prepared to request Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) to freeze the MoUs and order a comprehensive review of all MoUs that have been signed in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and south Bihar before deciding which MoUs should be implemented - with or without modification. I am prepared to request the prime minister to do that," he said.
He said he was ready to facilitate talks on forest rights, industrialisation, land acquisition and development with state governments.