Chief minister Mamata Banerjee would first need to create a congenial atmosphere before talks can begin, Maoist ideologues as well as leaders of pro-Maoist organisations said in one voice laying down preconditions a day after Mamata said her government was open to talks with the rebels.
“West Bengal government should also lift the ban imposed by the Left Front and then sit for talks,” Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao told HT on Friday.
On Thursday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee extended an olive branch to the ultra lefts calling them for talks after announcing the release of 46 political prisoners.
*Lift ban on the party in Bengal
*Observe ceasefire for three to six months
*Withdraw joint forces and stop combing operations
*Release all political prisoners not only 46
“The Maoists are also keen on holding talks. Be it slain CPI(maoist) spokesperson Azad or politburo members such as Ganapati or Kishanji, everyone was in favour of talks. But first Mamata has to create a congenial atmosphere. In the past initiatives for talks have actually turned into traps,” said Rao.
Azad was killed by security forces in Andhra Pradesh in 2010, while he was communicating with Swami Agnivesh, a Central emissary for peace talks.
Rao argued there should be some preconditions when the government talks with an underground party.
“The government will have to declare ceasefire for a given period of time, be is three months or six months. It must withdraw the joint forces before the talks. Only then talks can be held,” said Rao.
“Bengal has the highest number of political prisoners. All of them will have to be released and not only 46,” said Rao criticising Mamata Banerjee government for her token gesture.
He claimed there are more than 2,000 political prisoners in Bengal and all of them should be released.
Rao said that Mamata Banerjee during her rally in Lalgarh on August 9 last year, made political commitments which included release of all prisoners and withdrawal of joint forces.
“Now she should keep her political commitments,” Rao added.
Voices in Jungalmahal, too, echoed Rao’s thoughts and demanded that firest all political prisoners should be released including Chattradhar Mahato.
Ashok Jiban, secretary of Santrash Durniti O Samarajyabadi Agrashan Birodhi Mancha, umbrella organisation of all small committees including PCAPA stated that the arrested people would first be released.
“Talks with the government is meaningless until all political prisoners and those arrested in false cases be released. Our leaders are all in jail, who will Mamata Banerjee talk to,” said Jiban.
Jiban stated that even development initiatives will not be fruitful in the Maoist affected three districts of Bankura, West Midnapore and Purulia, until the prisoners are released.
“There are people who have been arrested from Trinamool refugee camp. There was a lot of hue and cry. But even after Mamata Banerjee became the chief minister, they are not released. In such a situation how will one bring development,” said Jiban.