Swami Agnivesh, interlocutor between the government and the Maoists, believes an independent probe into Cherekuri Rajkumar's killing will help put the peace process back on track
Social activist Swami Agnivesh, who is trying to negotiate a peace process between the Maoists and the Centre, met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday to request an impartial judicial probe into the killing of Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad, who was killed by the Andhra Pradesh police on July 2.
Dr Singh's response was positive, Agnivesh told Rediff.com on Wednesday.
Agnivesh's demand stems from the fact that there are different versions to Azad's death. The government claims that he was killed in an encounter with the Andhra Pradesh police on July 2, but the Maoists contend that Azad was killed in a fake encounter in the jungles of Adilabad district. They also allege that Azad was picked up by the police in Nagpur, Maharashtra, and taken to Adilabad where he was killed in cold blood.
Interestingly, a highly-placed source in the government indicated in an interaction with Rediff.com on Tuesday evening that there was a division within the Maoist camp on the nature of the peace talks with the government. The source said someone within the Maoist leadership had tipped off the security forces about Azad's whereabouts.
Azad, who had been underground for 35 years, was the main point of contact with Swami Agnivesh in the peace talks.
Swami Agnivesh believes an independent probe into Azad's killing will help put the peace process back on track since the Maoists have been deeply angered by the killing and want a citizens inquiry into it.
Agnivesh said he has requested the prime minister to appoint a judge who is nationally well known for his integrity to head the probe, and that if the Centre couldn't then to request Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah to do so.
In an interview with Rediff.com on July 9 Agnivesh had mentioned that Chidambaram was unwilling to institute such a probe on the ground that the alleged encounter took place in Andhra Pradesh and so it fell within that state's ambit.
To gain wider support among the political class cutting across party lines, Agnivesh also met Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani and Communist Party of India leader A B Bardhan to push for an independent and fair judicial probe into Azad's death.
Though Advani was not appreciative of Maoist violence, he asked Agnivesh to meet Sushma Swaraj, leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, and Arun Jaitley, leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, to take up the matter in both Houses of Parliament.
Agnivesh also plans to meet leaders of other political parties so that the issue can be raised during the monsoon session of Parliament that begins on July 26.