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Start talks with Maoists, Nepal peers tell India

Though India's Home Minister P Chidambaram has ruled out holding talks with the Maoist guerrillas, Nepal's former Maoist guerrillas urged New Delhi to open dialogue, warning else it would have to pay a "heavy price".

world Updated: Apr 08, 2010 16:48 IST

Though India's Home Minister P Chidambaram has ruled out holding talks with the Maoist guerrillas, Nepal's former Maoist guerrillas urged New Delhi to open dialogue, warning else it would have to pay a "heavy price".

"India should learn a lesson from Nepal," said Dinanath Sharma, spokesman of the formerly banned Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) that created history by signing a peace agreement four years ago and taking part in elections, which saw it emerge as the largest party in parliament in 2008.

"Our party fought a 10-year People's War. But then realising the demands of the time, it started dialogue with the political parties," he said.

Sharma, who is also a member of parliament, said, the current offensive in India against its Maoist parties smacked of the 21-month "repressive" period of emergency declared by then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi.

"When a government fails to heed the voice of the people and instead tries to impose dictatorship by repressing it with guns, it triggers greater opposition by the people and ultimately collapses," Sharma said.

"That is what happened in Nepal, where (king) Gyanendra tried to rule like a despot. It will be very costly for the Indian government if it tries to stifle the voice of the people."

Sharma said, his party did not support the violence by the Indian Maoists, nor did it support the "repression" by the Indian government.

"Even India's intellectual class has started speaking out against the government's anti-Maoist offensive," Sharma said. "If the Indian government fails to address the demands of its poor, peasants, workers and tribals, the war will increase."

In Nepal, Sharma said, the Maoists had first sought dialogue with the government.

"We gave a 42-point demand to the then prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba but he ignored them," the MP said. "So we were forced to start the People' War in 1996 that saw thousands die."

Sharma, whose party had held three rounds of peace talks, even with governments nominated by King Gyanendra, said the Indian government should start dialogue with the Indian Maoists and reach a negotiated understanding.

Still regarded by some Indian parties as having links with the Indian Maoists, who have been branded by the Indian government as its biggest internal security threat, Sharma underlined that the Nepal Maoists were not associated with any armed Indian groups.

"As Maoists we support their cause theoretically but we have no ties with them," Sharma said. "We are no longer an armed party. We contested an election and are now waging protests against the government peacefully and through democratic means".