Swami Agnivesh demands judicial probe into Azad’s death

Kolkata, July 7 (Calcutta Tube) Social activist Swami Agnivesh Wednesday demanded a judicial probe into Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad’s killing, saying that his death was a big blow to the proposed peace dialogue that was being chalked out. He also urged the rebels to abjure violence.

Agnivesh said he could not say whether Azad was killed in a real gunfight or a staged shootout. ‘But I feel the government should order a judicial probe to remove the environment of distrust among the Maoists,’ he said.

Agnivesh, who was asked by Home Minister P. Chidambaram to broker the talks two months ago, said Azad was picked up and killed by the police as he was on his way to negotiate the talks.

‘He was going to finalise the peace talks date with his comrades when he was detained and killed along with a journalist Hemant Pandey.

‘This is a serious blow to the peace process that was being planned for the last two months,’ said Agnivesh.

Agnivesh said Chidambaram handed him a confidential missive May 11, calling upon the rebels to declare a 72-hour ceasefire and start the talks process.

‘I conveyed this to the ultras and Azad gave me a letter May 31 through some of his contacts for the home minister.

‘The Maoists expressed their eagerness to join the talks but demanded mutual ceasefire, release of all their top leaders, troops withdrawal and halting of operation Greenhunt,’ he said.

However, when Agnivesh met Chidambaram again, he regretted that the Maoists had not responded to his 72-hour ceasefire offer.

‘On the basis of my discussion with the home minister, I wrote to Azad urging him to appreciate the home minister’s gesture and fix a date for the talks.’

Agnivesh said he then went to Australia but was shocked to learn on his return that Azad was killed in a gunfight. The social activist added that he almost felt guilty for Azad’s death.

‘I feel guilty of Azad’s untimely killing. I think as Azad was keeping regular contact with me to hold peace talks with the centre, that’s why he died so early,’ he said.

Agnivesh appealed to the Maoists to sit for peace talks and abjure violence.

‘I would request the Maoists not to indulge in violence. Because then the government will also have to indulge in counter-violence. The worst sufferers of this violence will be innocent common people and the tribals,’ he said.

‘Though I know that the Maoists are infuriated about Azad’s killing I would request them to continue with the peace process to salute Azad,’ Agnivesh added.

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