Talking peace, negotiating with the Maoists

News: Recently, the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh announced that the State government was ready for peace talks with the Maoists provided they laid down arms and expressed their faith in the Constitution of India.

Earlier attempts

In 2010, the then Home Minister tried to bring the Maoists to the negotiating table. He asked them to halt violence and come to talk. In response, the Maoists placed three pre-conditions to a dialogue.

In 2014, the Andhra Pradesh State government lifted the ban on the party. Consequently, there was a four-day peace dialogue between the representatives of the People’s War (PW) party and government. Maoists proposed a 11-point charter of demands such as legislation on land ceiling; creation of a separate state of Telangana; and questions associated with armed action by either side. However, the peace process collapsed mid-way and the ban was re-imposed on the CPI(Maoist) and its sister organisations.

What are the major conditions of the Maoists?

First, the ‘withdrawal of all-out war’, i.e., a cessation of hostilities by both sides simultaneously, i.e., mutual ceasefire and not unilateral ceasefire by the Maoists.

Second, lifting of the ban on the party was necessary for peaceful legal work by the Maoists,

Third, the government should adhere to the Constitution and end the illegal arrests, tortures and murders in the name of encounters. The government was also required to release some leaders

Should the Govt withdraw security forces from Maoist areas?

For

The government should go ahead with the Maoist’s demand of withdrawal of armed police forces with a mutually agreed ‘ceasefire’. For example, Maoists must abjure violence and the Security force’s Anti-Maoist operations must be halted for some period.

Against

The State government cannot afford the risk of moving out security forces as a pre-condition for initiating peace talks. The Maoists misused the ceasefire during the 2004 peace talks in Andhra Pradesh.

Way Forward

The State governments should implement the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996.

The release of jailed Maoist leaders should not be made a pre-condition by the Maoists. In fact, the Chhattisgarh government has withdrawn criminal cases against many tribals and has also ensured expeditious triasl of Naxal cases.

The government may give some concessions with regard to lifting a ban on the CPI(Maoist), the PLGA and its front organisations.

Source: The post is based on an article “Talking peace, negotiating with the Maoists” published in the “The Hindu” on 21st May 2022.

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