With the Naxals facing the heat of an imminent concerted operation by the security forces, a top Maoist leader on Thursday said the ultras were ready for talks 'if there was ceasefire on both sides' and withdrawal of the paramilitary forces deployed in the Naxal-hit states.
"The process of talks with the Central government can only begin if there is ceasefire on both sides," top Maoist leader Kishenji today said.
Asked to comment on the Centre's condition that the Maoists should abjure violence and only then it was ready to sit across the table, Kishenji told PTI over phone, "The Centre is killing innocent people in the name of tackling the Maoists and they are asking us to abjure violence, which is ridiculous."
He said the Centre would have to withdraw paramilitary forces from the seven states -- Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal -- and treat the problems of tribals in a sympathetic way.
"Also both the Centre and the state governments will have to apologise to the tribals for the prolonged atrocity meted out to them and the consequent suffering from the time of independence," Kishenji said.
Asked what should be the nature of the apology, Kishenji said without elaborating, "They will have to come to the tribals and apologise."
Asked about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement on Wednesday, in which he referred to the systematic exploitation and social, economic abuse of tribals over the years while emphasising on changes in the ways of dealing with them, Kishenji said, "It as nothing but an eyewash".
Kishenji said political leaders from the time of independence have said the same thing as the Prime Minister, but little had been done. "We want an end to it. If the government thinks that speaking about the people and their problems is waging war against the country, then be it," he said.
On West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's visit to trouble-torn West Midnapore district where he is likely to announce a Rs 1,600 crore package for the development of tribal areas in three districts, the Maoist leader said, "The people of the areas are fed up of these kind of promises. What the state government has done in the last 33 years is known to all."