Government willing to talk to Maoists, apex court told

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) The government is willing to talk with the Maoists provided they shun violence, the Supreme Court was told Tuesday.

Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati told an apex court bench of Justice B. Sudershan Reddy and Justice Deepak Verma that neither the state nor the security personnel entertain any ill-will or grudge against the tribals.

Referring to his talks with Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram Monday evening, Vahanvati told the court that the government is willing to talk with the Maoists provided they give up violence.

‘We are not here to perpetuate any civil war in the country. After all they all are our people,’ remarked Vahanvati.

‘Yes, yes, it’s not a civil war. They are our own citizens,’ the bench observed in response to Vahanvati’s reply.

The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the Chhattisgarh government to locate six missing tribals and present them before it. They are part of 12 who had allegedly gone missing.

The bench gave the direction while hearing a lawsuit by a human right activist Himanshu Kumar, who had alleged that the 12 tribals had been abducted by the security personnel.

In a lawsuit filed last week, Kumar had alleged 12 tribals had been abducted by police and security personnel to keep them away from the local courts, which they had moved for a probe into the killing of over 12 villagers by security forces in Dantewada.

Taking serious note of the allegation, the apex court bench last Monday had asked the state police to locate the missing tribals and produce them before it.

The police had presented six tribals before the court Monday. The bench asked the police to take them back to their native place in Dantewada.

The six were produced in the court again Tuesday. Their statement was recorded in the court of Delhi district judge Monday, as per the apex court’s direction.

The apex court bench had directed recording of their statement to ascertain if they had indeed been abducted by the police as Kumar alleged.

The statements of the six tribals were submitted to the court in a sealed cover, and was later given to counsel for both side, the government and the petitioner.

Various counsel later told reporters that the tribals denied before the district judge that they had been kidnapped by the police.

They deposed that they were picked up by the police from the local market and brought here to Delhi as per the Supreme Court order last week.

Senior counsel Collin Gonsalves, appearing for petitioner Kumar, had Monday contended that the tribals had been tutored by the police and would repeat what they had been told to.

Gonsalves wanted the court to let the tribals live with human rights activist Mohini Giri for a couple of days so that they could get out of the influence of security forces.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the state government, however had opposed the plea saying this would in turn give the petitioner’s counsel an opportunity to tutor the tribals and prompt them to make anti-police statements before the court.

Appearing for the central government, Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati sought to assure the court that neither state nor the security personnel entertain any ill-will or grudge against the hapless tribals.

During the hearings, the bench, however, expressed concern at reports that over 200,000 tribals have left the state to escape the cross fire between the security personnel and the Maoists.

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