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Nitish offers free passage to Maoists, calls for talks
Published on 5 Sep. 2010 12:15 AM IST
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Under intense pressure to end the week-long hostage crisis in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday invited the Maoists holding three policemen captive for talks even offering them safe passage after securing an all party consensus.
A day after the bullet-riddled body of Lucas Tete, one of the four abducted policemen, was found, Kumar said the all party meeting convened by him also appealed to the Maoists to release unharmed the three remaining hostages who the rebels said were safe. The government offer for talks after a Maoist spokesman called for an immediate dialogue came on a day when Police arrested nine Naxalites including two who were reported to be involved in the kidnapping incident in Lakhisarai district on Sunday. The arrest of the rebels came when combing operations were expanded to fresh areas in Munger district.
“I am personally ready for holding talks with the Maoists. We guarantee providing full security and safe passage to Maoist representatives irrespective of the outcome. No police action will be taken,” Kumar told reporters after an all party meeting here.
The Maoists are demanding that eight of their arrested cadres be freed in exchange for the release of the hostages.
Kumar said he had come across media reports that a person called Avinash claiming to be a spokesman of the Maoists had asked for talks.
“But can the talks take place over phone? It is impossible to know their grievances unless they come forward for negotiations,” Kumar said.
He said representatives from political parties would also be present during the talks.
A day after the bullet-riddled body of Bihar cop Lucas Tete was found, Maoists Saturday apologised for wrongly saying that they had killed Sub-Inspector Abhay Kumar Yadav. The rebels said that the other three policemen they had abducted were safe. Maoist spokesperson Avinash told a local Hindi news channel that he was sorry for the wrong information he gave Thursday about Yadav’s death.
Avinash claimed the mistake was due to a communication gap between him and his comrades in the hilly, forest area of Lakhisarai. Avinash rang up media offices including PTI and said the three abducted policemen were safe and demanded the Bihar government immediately halt operations and call for talks.
Avinash said the rebels would provide an audio CD with the voices of the three policemen.
However, he said time was running out and the state government should immediately hold talks for the release of the three, he said.
“We want the state government should halt the operations and hurry to hold talks for securing the safe release of the three hostages,” he said.
In Jamui district, police sources said that two Naxalites including Pinki Yadav were apprehended in Jamui town this morning when they were speaking to their colleagues from a telephone booth. They were believed to be involved in the abduction of the policemen.
Seven suspected ultras were also arrested during intensified search in Munger district by security forces, a top police official said.
On reports that the mastermind of the encounter in which the Maoists killed seven policemen and looted around 35 rifles has been arrested, Director General of Police (DGP) Neelmani told PTI “We have no information about it”.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people from the village of abducted policeman Abhay Kumar Yadav Saturday blocked a national highway to protest the Bihar government’s failure to rescue the sub-inspector who is among the three policemen being held hostage by Maoists.
Yadav along with three other policemen was abducted by Maoists after a six-hour gunfight in Lakhisarai district Sunday. One of the policemen was killed by the ultra-left guerrillas on Friday. Angry villagers, mostly from Mohanpur, the native village of Yadav, and nearby villages in Begusarai district, blocked National Highway 31 and threatened to disrupt rail services if the state government failed to rescue him.
“Villagers shouted slogans against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and blocked the national highway since Saturday morning,” a police official in Begusarai told IANS.
Mohanpur village is hardly one km from the national highway. The entire village is tense and angry with the government for having failed to rescue Yadav.
Meanwhile, Rajni Devi, Yadav’s wife, has threatened that she and her family members will immolate themselves if her husband is not rescued. Rajni’s health condition has reportedly deteriorated and Yadav’s aged mother Naina Devi is in a state of shock.
On Saturday, Maoist spokesperson Avinash apologised for wrongly saying that they had killed Yadav. The rebels said the other three policemen were safe. They left the bullet-riddled body of Bihar policeman Lucas Tete in the forest.
The other abducted policemen are Rupesh Kumar Sinha and Ehsan Khan.
The Maoists are demanding the release of eight jailed Maoist leaders. The decision to kill Tete was taken by a ‘jan adalat’, a kangaroo court, of the Maoists.
The Maoists have warned the Bihar government of more attacks if the operations against them did not stop immediately.

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