Within 30 hours of the arrest of Venkateswar Reddy alias Telugu Deepak in Kolkata on Tuesday evening, Maoists have again offered to hold talks with the Centre. There is, however, a caveat: Deepak has to be released first.
“We can talk if Deepak is released unconditionally,” said an aide of the leader of the banned CPI (Maoist), Koteswar Rao alias Kishenji.
Deepak, 44, was picked up by the West Bengal Police’s Criminal Investigation Department from Howrah, the southern fringes of Kolkata.
Kishenji’s aide Raju told HT that the offer to hold talks would soon be faxed to the number provided by the home ministry on February 19.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram set a deadline of 72 hours for the Maoists to respond to the government’s call for talks.
Later, he insisted on a short and clear reply from the Maoists. In response, the rebels provided a cell phone number where they could be reached.
Deepak is the senior-most Maoist leader to be arrested after Kobad Ghandy, a CPI (Maoist) politburo member, in Delhi on September 20, 2009.
“Deepak was involved in major Maoist operations in West Bengal over the past decade,” said Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh on Thursday.
Meanwhile, police claim Deepak’s arrest is significant as it could help in penetrating into the Maoist intelligence network.
“The Maoists operate mainly on the basis of human intelligence and the arrest of Telugu Deepak proves that the police have been able to penetrate deep into their intelligence network,” a CID officer told PTI on condition of anonymity.
With inputs from PTI