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PWG BLASTS GOVT ON PEACE PROCESS 

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FROM G.S. RADHAKRISHNA   |   Hyderabad   |   Published 16.06.02, 12:00 AM

Hyderabad, June 16 :    Hyderabad, June 16:  The People's War group has accused the Andhra Pradesh government of lacking the political will to continue with the peace talks. 'They were not even keen to listen to our protestations that there was no conducive atmosphere in which the extremist leaders, who were in the jungles, could come out confidently and hold discussions with the government,' the poet and PWG emissary, P. Varavara Rao, said about the reaction from government representatives. Both government emissaries, state ministers K. Vijayrama Rao and T. Seetharam, had expressed their embarrassment over the encounter deaths of extremists at the first preliminary discussion on June 5. However, at the second preliminary on June 9, they defended the police action. Rao said the first two rounds of talks with the government had accomplished little and the two sides merely ended up debating over two contentious issues - continued encounter killings by the police and the government's refusal to temporarily lift the ban on the PWG. 'We took up both the issues during these meetings as they had become topical and committed by the police even as we were to hold the preliminaries for talks. What we really wanted to discuss was the modalities for the talks, which took a back seat. This was not intentional but accidental,' Rao said. The poet said the ban on the PWG had helped the police to ruthlessly crush any kind of public discontent against the government in Telengana, be it public grievance for more water, or jobs, or student's agitation or protests by women and peasants. All agitations are suppressed cruelly by the government and their leaders are charged under the Public Securities Act under which the police have been given extraordinary powers. He said both the PWG and the police observed a ceasefire for 24 days since May 10. But there were five to six encounters from June 5 in which several innocent persons have been killed. 'All that we wanted the government to do was implement the verdict of the Supreme Court and the NHRC to file a criminal case under IPC 302 against the police officials involved in fake encounters, but the government emissaries said the police had protection under Article 268. There ended the talks,' Rao said. On the government stand that the PWG had exploited the ceasefire to expand its activities, Varavara Rao said the ceasefire only meant 'no use of firearms and no possession of firearms'. He defended the extremists holding public meetings in the villages with armed guards. 'Will the government guarantee that the police will not fire on the extremists holding peaceful meetings in the villages?' he asked. The PWG emissary said the Naidu government had toughened its stand ever since its relations with the NDA improved and particularly after Naidu's recent visit to Delhi. Naidu was keen to square up with the PWG after the last panchayat polls in which the Telugu Desam Party fared poorly because of opposition from the extremists. Moreover, the BJP did not appreciate Naidu resolving his problems with the PWG as it would hurt the former's votebanks in Telengana. The BJP votebank in Telengana comprised four Lok Sabha and nine Assembly constituencies. Rao wondered how the government expected the PWG leaders to come for talks when a ban existed on their organisation and there were cash rewards on their heads. 'The safe passage for the Naxalite leaders proposed by the government is impractical and not legally possible,' Rao said. After the talks, the Naxals want to address a public meeting to inform the people of what prompted them to give up the revolution,' he said. Asked whether the PWG expected too much from the government, Varavara Rao said it was nothing different from what the Government of India had done before entering into a dialogue with the Nagas or the Mizos. 'Much depends on the government creating a conducive atmosphere for talks. What is existing on the ground today is only onesided. The encounters (five in all since June 5) and the rejection of demand for partial withdrawal of ban on PWG to allow the leaders to have discussions among themselves and seek public opinion,' he said.    


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