Seize the space

Seize the space

Space for negotiations has opened up with the Maoists announcing a 72-day ceasefire beginning March 25. This is an opportunity, which the government must grasp without any delay. Home Minister P Chidambaram has promised to respond positively to the Maoists if they get back to him with an unambiguous statement unconditionally abjuring violence. The Maoists’ ceasefire offer is conditional on the government calling off ‘Operation Green Hunt.’ It does seem that the government is unsure of the genuineness of the ceasefire offer. Reports suggest that the Maoists are split on the truce issue. Sceptics are pointing out that the Maoists’ ceasefire offer is a ruse to get the government to halt military operations, to allow them time and space to regroup. The Maoists too are wary that the government will use the ceasefire to consolidate control over areas where the writ of the rebels runs. The Maoists’ experience of talks with the government has not been positive. The Andhra Pradesh government engaged in talks with the Maoists and when several of their leaders emerged above ground to participate in the peace process, the government called off the talks and quickly arrested them. It would be a pity if the two sides allow their suspicions to cloud their decisions on what is an opportunity.
There is a trust deficit on the part of both sides but this can be overcome by putting in place confidence building measures. A group that includes eminent citizens trusted by both sides can be set up to monitor the ceasefire and to ensure that they are living up to their obligations. A truce is no guarantee that all violence will end overnight. There will be sections on both sides that are opposed to ceasefire and talks. They will seek to undermine the truce by engaging in violence. Consequently, both the government and the Maoists must be patient and not respond to these provocative acts by walking away from the ceasefire.

If the government responds to the Maoist offer and a ceasefire from both sides comes into effect, it will provide the tribals living in the conflict zones some respite. Both sides claim to represent the interests of the tribals. If they are indeed committed to their welfare, safety and security, they must cease the violence. The silencing of guns, will allow the Maoists and the government to air their grievances, articulate their positions and suggestions and hear each other.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)