The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Show of strength before peace bid
- PWG meet in Hyderabad after nearly 14 years

Hyderabad, Sept. 30: Hundreds of People's War Group activists and supporters hit the streets in a massive show of strength barely two days before scheduled peace talks with the new government.

Holding red flags and dancing to tunes of revolutionary songs, the rebel sympathisers and members of the PWG's frontal organisations, mobilised from across Andhra Pradesh, headed for the sprawling Nizam College grounds for a public meeting in the capital city after nearly 14 years.

'Through this meeting, we want to highlight the basic problems of people like land, water, food security and empowerment,' revolutionary balladeer Gadar, a key player in the ongoing negotiations with the Congress regime, said.

The government had last week invited the PWG and the Janasakhthi, another Naxalite outfit that took part in today's rally, for direct talks on October 2. The invite was in tune with the Congress' pre-poll promise to revive the stalled dialogue with the rebels. As part of the efforts, the government lifted the ban on the PWG, announced a three-month ceasefire and set up a committee of mediators.

But the dialogue process is likely to be delayed as the extremist organisations were busy making arrangements for the meeting.

The talks could be held in the second week of October, said Varavara Rao, another key figure involved with the peace drive.

Gadar, too, said as much. Asked when the direct talks will be held with the government, he said 'in all probability' in the second week of October'.

At the talks, the PWG is expected to raise the issues of land for the tiller, people's empowerment in rural areas, self-reliance and statehood for the Telangana region.

Since the ban on the outfit was lifted in July, the PWG has been organising a series of public meetings across the state, starting with Warangal in Telangana, to press for their demands and the right to carry weapons. While granting permission for the meetings, the government had made it clear that the Naxalites should not carry arms.

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