Faced with relentless attacks on their forested hideouts, Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh say they are open to peace talks with the government.
In a press statement in Hindi, Pandu alias Pandanna, a spokesperson of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), said the group "wants to hold talks with the government in public interest, provided the government takes positive initiatives."
"Before starting peace parleys, the government should create a conducive atmosphere and stop suppressing tribals," the message, sent to media outlets in its stronghold of Bastar in the state's southern forested region late on Friday, said.
The Maoists' peace talk offer comes in the backdrop of Chief Minister Raman Singh's recent statement that "bullet has never produced a solution to any problem in the world".
In an initial response to the Maoists' offer, Raman Singh welcomed it, describing it as "cheering news".
Political analysts and experts say the Maoists have offered peace talks as they are now on the backfoot due to relentless attacks by police and para-military troopers on their decade-old landmine protested forested safe hideouts.
Around 1,250 people have been killed since 2004 in Maoist violence in the state.