Koteshwar Rao demands release of key aide, ready for talks with Centre

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New Delhi, Mar 4 (ANI): The arrest of Venkateshwar Reddy alias Telugu Deepak, a close aide of top Maoist leader Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji has put the Maoists under tremendous pressure, as Rao is ready to hold peace talks with the Central Government provided his key aides are released.

In a fresh statement issued by Rao, the Maoists have made a tall demand before the Centre asking for the release of Telugu Deepak along with other arrested Maoists and called for talks with the Home Ministry on how to implement the ceasefire.

Rao has asked for his key aides to be released immediately, adding that the government did not responded to his offer of holding talks.

Rao's aide Raju said, "In response to Chidambaram's offer as soon we announced that we were willing to suspend operations if the state too stopped operations, Lal Mohan Tudu, one of the prominent leaders in Lalgarh was murdered by the security forces. This shows that the state isn't keen on a dialogue."

"The Ministry of Home Affairs hasn't yet responded to our offer. We feel both sides, the Ministry and the Maoists, should sit across the table and decide how and when to stop operations on both sides," he added.

The Centre has however, made it clear that if the rebels are willing to talk, they should stop violence within 72-hours and the Home Ministry would respond in return.

Rao had earlier offered a 72-day long ceasefire to the Central Government starting from February 26.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram had already made it clear that the talks with rebels could be possible only if they gave up violence.

Reddy was arrested in a joint operation carried out by the state police and Crime Investigation Department (CID) officials on Tuesday evening.

Reddy, who is chief of Maoists military operations in Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand, was produced before a Kolkata court and remanded to police custody till March 17.

He is said to be the mastermind behind the Silda attack last month, where rebels gunned down 24 police paramilitaries.

Reddy was also the mastermind in the Maoist strikes in Sankrail, Gidhni and the Rajdhani siege incident in West Midnapore district of West Bengal last year.

His arrest is being seen as the biggest catch after Maoist ideologue Kobad Ghandy. (ANI)

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