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Lalgarh : PCPA sets pre conditions for talks

Reciprocating Union Home Minister P Chidambaram's talks offer, the PCPA today declared that it was ready for dialogue provided certain ''preconditions'' were fulfilled, including immediate withdrawal of the combined forces from Junglemahal.

PCPA convener Asit Mahato Told UNI this morning that they were ready to accept the Centre's offer and would send a message to this effect to the Union home minister after consultation with senior leaders of the outfit who had gone underground.

''Most of our leaders have gone underground recently due to police torture and indiscriminate arrests. Let it be known to Mr Chidambaram that the state government and the combined forces have arrested only our people on the plea that they are Maoists, but have failed to arrest the actual insurgents. Not one of the Maoist ultras has been arrested. I firmly declare that we have no connection with the Maoists,'' Mahato said.

Asked as to what the pre-conditions for these talks were, Mahato said their primary demand was withdrawal of the combined forces engaged in anti-Maoist operation, release of their arrested leader Chhatradhar Mahato, action against those responsible for the 'calculated murder' of Lalmohan Tudu and development of tribal areas.

Mahato claimed that the authorities were yet to frame charges against Chhatradhar Mahato, languishing behind bars. The Union home minister, during his Lalgarh visit yesterday, had said the government was open to talks with the PCPA on alleged police atrocities and also on any other issues if they come forward, but added they must first abjure violence.

(Central Chronicle, 5th April)