Thursday, October 21, 2004

India: Peace Talks with Maoist ends deadlocked


Ramakrishna (C), has accused the state government of being vague : Leaders of the CPI(Maoist) and CPIML Janashakti said they were "dissatisfied" that the talks ended without any agreement, and without the government making any specific announcement about their demands.The CPI Maoist leader Ramakrishna said the government's response on every issue raised by them was vague and unclear. He said the Maoists wanted to discuss three other demands, including the release of political prisoners, the withdrawal of bounties on the heads of rebels and the disbandment of private armed gangs used by the police against the revolutionaries.

India Maoists unhappy with talks

Maoist rebels in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh say they are dissatisfied with the outcome of talks with the government.

They have complained that the government did not commit itself to any their demands.

The first round of peace talks between the rebels and the state government ended late on Monday night.

It was the first time that armed Maoist leaders came out of their jungle hideouts for the face-to-face talks.

Land redistribution

The BBC's Omer Farooq in Hyderabad says that the tame end of talks - concluding without any agreement - came as a sharp contrast to the high expectations which preceded them.

The main Maoist group at the talks was the People's War Group, which has just merged with another force, the Maoist Communist Centre to become the united Communist Party of India (Maoist), or CPI(Maoist).

The other left-wing party was the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), or CPIML.

Our correspondent says the fact that the talks took place at all reflected a marked change in the situation in the state during the past five months.

After they ended, the state Home Minister K Jana Reddy said that only two issues - land distribution and withdrawal of cases against some of those involved in the movement - were taken up during the first round.

The home minister said that the issue of Maoist rebels giving up weapons during the ceasefire would be discussed in the next round of talks.

The minister said the government was taking steps to address the rebels' demand for land reforms and distribution of land among the landless poor.

Mr Reddy said the government would set up a high-level committee to undertake a survey of lands and strictly implement an act aimed at protecting the ownership of land owned by tribals.

'Unclear'

But leaders of the CPI(Maoist) and CPIML Janashakti said they were "dissatisfied" that the talks ended without any agreement, and without the government making any specific announcement about their demands.

The CPI Maoist leader Ramakrishna said the government's response on every issue raised by them was vague and unclear.

He said the Maoists wanted to discuss three other demands, including the release of political prisoners, the withdrawal of bounties on the heads of rebels and the disbandment of private armed gangs used by the police against the revolutionaries.

Mr Ramakrishna said Maoist parties would decide their future course of action on the peace process only after waiting and watching the steps taken by the government.

The talks were the first face to face discussions between the two sides

However our correspondent says that Mr Ramakrishna avoided describing the talks a failure and said that creation of peaceful and democratic atmosphere in the state was one of its principle benefits.

The home minister said the next round of talks could take place after two months, but Mr Ramakrishna said they would prefer the next round on 17 November, as his party was organising a public meeting in Hyderabad on 16 November.

Mr Ramakrishna said the ceasefire would continue until the next round of talks.

The PWG was founded in 1980 and since then has been waging an armed struggle for the creation of a communist state comprising the tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar and Chhattisgarh.

More than 6,000 people have died in violence over the past two decades.

BBC 19/10/2004