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Agnivesh seeks judicial probe into Azad killing

Posted by Admin on July 8, 2010

By Madhuparna Das,  Indian Express

Medha Patkar and Agnivesh in Kolkata.: Medha Patkar and Agnivesh in Kolkata. Subham Dutta

Peace talks between the Centre and the CPI(Maoist) will not proceed further if the Union government does not institute a judicial inquiry into the killing of Cherukiri Rajkumar alias Azad on July 2, said Swami Agnivesh, the mediator between the two sides. The judicial probe will have to ascertain whether the encounter in which Azad was killed was fake, said the swami. He will press this demand when he meets Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday.

Speaking at a convention organised by the National Alliance of People’s Movement in Kolkata, Agnivesh — with Medha Patkar at his side — said, “We will never allow the peace process to be derailed. Azad was at the forefront of initiating the process and if the initiatives become successful, it will be the greatest tribute to Azad. But tomorrow (Thursday), I will meet Chidambaram and ask him to order a judicial probe into Azad’s killing. We all want to know whether he was killed in a fake encounter or a genuine encounter.

Until we get the report, the peace process cannot be pursued,” said Agnivesh.

“I started initiating the peace process after the Union Home Minister, Mr Chidambaram, sent a confidential letter to me on May 11 asking me to start discussions with the CPI(Maoist). Through my sources, I sent a letter to the Central Committee of the CPI(Maoist) as Chidambaram’s proposal appeared to be a very ‘concrete offer’ to the Maoists for initiating the peace process. On May 31, I received a letter from Azad in which he wrote that they were ready for the talks if there was an announcement of a mutual ceasefire from both sides. I thought the deadlock was over and I conveyed Azad’s message to the Union home minister,” said Agnivesh.

He added that Chidambaram told him that after holding a meeting of Chief Ministers of seven Maoist-affected states, it would be decided how and when CRPF companies would be sent back to the barracks to prepare the ground for a mutual ceasefire and peace dialogue. However, he is said to have been told by the Union home minister to have a concrete answer from the CPI (Maoist) regarding “abjuring violence for 72 hours”.

Accordingly, Agnivesh wrote a letter to Azad on June 26 where he mentioned three dates for starting the process of mutual ceasefire. Talks were also on with the government on lifting the ban on the CPI (Maoist) and releasing some of their senior leaders who could hold the talks with the government, said Agnivesh.

“I am feeling guilty as according to my sources, Azad was moving to Nagpur to collect my letter when he was picked up by the police. Otherwise, he might have not been caught in this way. I had mentioned three dates for a mutual ceasefire. The dates mentioned in the letter were July 10, July 15 and July 20. I was told by my sources that Azad was trying to get the dates to start the mutual ceasefire,” added Agnivesh.

Significantly, Agnivesh was in Austrelia when he got the news of Azad being killed on July 2. “At present also, I can say that I will not give up and pursue the peace process. I will appeal to Kishenji and other senior leaders of the CPI(Maoist) not to indulge in any violence to avenge the killing of Azad.”

Agnivesh condemned the killing of CRPF personnel in Chattishgarh. “Neither the Maoists nor the government will achieve anything by indulging themselves in violence and counter-violence. I condemn the killing of CRPF personnel as they too belong to poor tribal families.”

He further confirmed that Venugopal, brother of Kishenji, had been selected the new spokesperson of the CPI (Maoist) Central Committee, through whom he will carry on discussions about the peace process.

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