The Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday clarified that it was not ordering the People’s War group of Naxalites to surrender their weapons for the peace talks but only asking them not to carry them during the period of talks.
State Home Minister K Jana Reddy conveyed the government’s ‘firm stance’ on the issue to the group’s emissary Gaddar.
He wrote the letter to the PWG soon after the outfit’s state committee secretary Ramakrishna announced that the Naxalites would continue to carry weapons insisting that an order to the contrary could hamper the peace talks.
PWG has already ruled out giving up its armed struggle but the government on Thursday clarified that this was not a condition for talks. However, the government wanted the Naxalites to avoid carrying weapons. “The government is not asking you to surrender your weapons. We are only requesting you not to run your political campaign with arms,” the Home Minister said in the signed letter.
It may be recalled that the PWG, in its letter to the government on August 2, had demanded that the clause with regard to weapons be dropped from the draft agreement on the ceasefire.
The home minister also announced the names of two more members for the coordination committee to work out the modalities for peace talks. They are retired IAS officer T Gopal Rao and journalist K Ramachandra Murthy. The government had already announced nine names for the committee, which is likely to have a total of 30 members. The final composition would be finalised on Friday.
The government would announce its representatives for direct talks with the PWG leadership by August 10.
The government has accepted the PWG’s demand for an enquiry into the ‘covert operation’ in which two PWG Naxalites were killed by a ‘renegade’ believed to be a ‘police mole’. Civil liberties activists K G Kannabiran and K Balagopal would conduct the enquiry.
The PWG had demanded a probe into the July 11 incident that took place in the forests in Warangal district.
By Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad