A day after Naxals unleashed another attack in Chattisgarh, Home Minister P Chidambaram made a fresh offer on Tuesday to hold talks if they "suspend" violence even for just 72 hours but the Left-wing extremists rejected it.
"Maoists should say 'we will abjure violence. We will suspend violence and actually suspend violence for 72 hours'. We will get the Chief Ministers on board. We will respond. We will fix a date, time and place for talks and let the Maoists come for the talks on anything they wish to talk," Chidambaram said.
Naxal leader Ramanna who said in Bastar district in Chhattisgarh, "we cannot give up our weapons" dismissed the offer.
He said the Naxal's had responded to the Home Minister's earlier offer for talks. "But the Government did not believe us. There is a heavy presence of security forces and their atrocities are continuing every day," he said.
Ramanna said the attack on the civilian bus in Dantewada district yesterday was aimed at Special Police Officers who were travelling on it. 35 passengers including SPOs were killed when their bus blown up by the Naxals.
"The administration used civilians as human shields, so they got killed. But I regret this," he said.
Chidambaram contended that the CPI (Maoist) never responded "seriously" to the earlier offer of talks. "They are indulging in gimmickery I am afraid media plays up that gimmick," he said.
Asked whether government forces will also halt all operations against them during the period of ceasefire, the Home Minister responded, "That goes without saying".
Chidambaram said "if they observe complete suspension of violence for just 72 hours, it goes without saying that police will not take any action against any CPI (Maoist) activist, hideouts or camps."
He said complete suspension means there should not be any attack on infrastructure, any landmine blast or any targeting of telephone towers.