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India

Jharkhand: Maoists Set Terms for Peace Talks

SHERGHATI: In a turnaround after the installation of coalition government headed by JMM leader Shibu Soren in Jharkhand, banned CPI (Maoists) on Friday accepted the state government's offer to come to the negotiating table.

Holding a rare press conference at Sherghati, 160 km from Patna, Bihar-Jharkhand North Chhattisgarh Special Area Committee CPI (Maoists) spokesperson Gopal while welcoming the Jharkhand government's offer, expressed doubt over its sincerity.

"Whether he (Soren) will be able to resist the pressure of the Central government and his coalition partner BJP to continue war on his own people (read Maoists) is doubtful," he said. 

"If Soren's proposal is sincere, the government must make the atmosphere conducive for talks. If government wants to hold us on gun point and then negotiate, there is no possibility of negotiations," he said. 

Putting forth an eight-point 'wish list', the CPI (Maoist) spokesman said the list included immediate end to proposed war on its own people and "de-paramilitarisation" of Jharkhand's rural parts. Gopal said all political prisoners including Central committee leaders - Sushil Roy, Amitabh Bagchi, Mohit and women leader Shila - must be released unconditionally. 

He also demanded lifting the ban on the outfit and punishment for the police and intelligence officers responsible for "fake encounters". A Report by Jaideep Deogharia for Times of India, January 30, 2010