While an operation is on to destroy the infrastructure of Maoists in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, a move is also being initiated for a dialogue.
From Saturday, a two-day session will be held at Delhi with some human rights activists to chalk out the talking points before the Maoists are approached formally. Though the meeting is being held under the aegis of a newly formed Delhi Policy Study Group, it appears to have the Union home ministry's blessings. The meeting will be chaired by veteran journalist B G Vergese and attended by noted Gandhian Himangshu Kumar from Chhattisgarh, activist and social scientist Radha Kumar, Haragopal from Andhra, Shankar Sharma from Jharkhand, Sujato Bhadra from West Bengal and some other known activists.
According to Bhadra, the agenda is to evolve a strategy to start a dialogue with the Naxalites (Communist Party of India -Maoist). Once the major talking points are agreed on, the body will approach the Maoists. The main problem is that they have been waging a war against the state, notes Bhadra.
Unlike the United Liberation Front of Assom, where the main contentious issue was their demand for sovereignty, here the situation is complicated. If an outfit is determined to overthrow the elected political power and capture state power by armed process, how could one initiate a dialogue with that?
Bhadra argues, "So, perhaps at the initial stage we will have to make them agree to a reduction in violence. If they agree to stop the indiscriminate killings of people (both security personnel and ordinary villagers), then we can ask the government to suspend Operation Green Hunt (the supposed term for the official offensive) for the time being."
Another concern is to make the Maoists agree to some formula whereby state-sponsored development works could be started in the areas under their influence. The idea is to make the Maoists understand that the continued attempt to resist all pro-poor development work in tribal areas would ultimately alienate them from the poor.
Once the Maoists are agreed on certain points, then a monitoring mechanism would have to watch how things are taking shape and another mechanism for regular meetings between the state and the Naxals to sort disputes in these areas.
Bhadra agrees that much will depend on how the Maoists respond to these initial attempts. It is possible that some representatives of the Centre will also attend the Delhi meeting.