The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist has called for a two-day strike across the country from Wednesday to protest the gunning down of their senior politburo member Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, top Maoist leader Kishenji said on Sunday.
Condemning the killing of Azad, at Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh by police on Friday, the leftwing party has decided to call a two-day 'Bharat Bandh', Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji said from an undisclosed location.
The top rebel leader, however, maintained that basic amenities like milk, vegetables, medicines and emergency services like railways, ambulance and fire services have been exempted from the shutdown.
Kishenji, chief of the CPI-Maoists military wing - Peoples' Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA), said Azad, a spokesperson of the party, and his companion were not victims of a gunbattle with police, but were killed after being arrested.
He said: "Azad was arrested from Nagpur along with another Maoist Sukdeb, and taken 150 km to Adilabad where both were shot dead."
According to Kishenji, "Azad was on his way to Dandakaranya to attend the CPI-Maoists' central committee meeting when he was caught by the police."
Kishenji said the top rebel leaders were to attend the party's central committee meeting to discuss developments in the context of Home Minister P Chidambaram's recent communication to Swami Agnivesh on talks with the Maoists.
Criticising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, Kishenji said, "It's apparent that the Centre does not want talks because it is speaking of dialogue and yet killing our members."
With Azad's death, six out of 13 politburo members of the CPI-Maoist have either been eliminated or were behind bars, he said.
Referring to the chief minister's meet convened July 24 to decide on whether to use the Indian Air Force (IAF) for anti-Maoist operations, Kishenji said the IAF should not be used against poor people.
In an appeal to the IAF, the top Maoist leader said: "You are Indian citizens, you should not use your guns on the poor and innocent people."