We welcome the announcement by the CPI (Maoist) to observe a ceasefire and enter into talks with the Government of India. Given the government’s expressed willingness to engage in talks, we hope that this offer will be reciprocated. This necessarily requires a halt to all paramilitary armed offensive operations (commonly known as Operation Green Hunt) immediately. It is also imperative that there should be complete cessation of all hostilities by both sides during the currency of the talks.
We are of the view that the Central Government, and not the State Governments, should be the authority to conduct talks as the problem covers various states.
Additionally, the Central Government should ensure that, while the talks are being held, all MOUs, if entered into, should be frozen and not implemented; no compulsory acquisition of tribal lands and habitats be undertaken; and tribals should not be displaced. This is because the Central Government is bound under law to strictly comply with the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution that, among others, safeguards manifold rights of the tribals including their ownership over land and resources.
We further urge that during the period of the ceasefire and the course of talks, independent teams of observers and human rights groups should not be prevented, by either side, from going to the affected areas.
Justice Rajindar Sachar, Randhir Singh, B.D. Sharma, Arundhati Roy, Amit Bhaduri, Manoranjan Mohanty, Prashant Bhushan, Sumit Chakravartty, G.N. Saibaba, S.A.R. Geelani, Madhu Bhaduri, Karen Gabriel, P.K. Vijayan, Saroj Giri, Rona Wilson, Anirban Kar
23 February 2010
Concerned Citizens, c/o Sumit Chakravartty
B 57 Gulmohar Park (1st Floor), New Delhi 110049