While there is always the thrill of holding people hostage against their desire, the Maoists, of late, seem to have discovered the pleasure of release.
Having spanked the State into submission by beheading Francis Induwar; by freeing policeman Atindranath Datta and ‘peacefully’ vandalising the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, the Maoists appear to be signaling a new phase in their troubled relationship with the State.
Now that the State and the media know that the Maoists are capable of taking the pleasure equals pain principle to its logical climax, freeing hostages and good-naturedly scribbling slogans on trains appears like a far more civilised way of fomenting revolution.
Just recently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed their willingness to break free from the handcuffs of current discourse and engage with those who abstain (from violence).
Maoist leader Kishenji has insisted that while the rebels shall not lay down their arms, talks with the West Bengal and central governments must be preceded by the unconditional release of all prisoners taken captive since military operations began in Lalgarh in June, a withdrawal central forces from the area and a declaration of ceasefire by both sides.
In the meantime, Home Minister P Chidambaram has warned that he can keep his velvet gloves on for only so long; thereafter it’s steel fisting all the way. The victims of military operation shall inevitably be the poor tribals who have love for neither State nor rebel. Now if only the Maoists would take themselves in hand.