Swami Agnivesh says Maoist leader Azad's killing, a setback to peace talks

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Kolkata, July 8 (ANI): Swami Agnivesh, who is acting as a peace negotiator between the government and Maoists, has said the killing of Maoist leader Cherukuri Rajkumar alias Azad is a setback to the peace process.

Addressing media persons here on Wednesday, Agnivesh said: "His killing is a very big shock. I had written a letter to him, appreciating his steps for peace talks Perhaps, this letter could have made him feel that the government is softening its stand. As a result, he might have been a bit relaxed on his security front."

Agnivesh also called on the Central Government to ascertain whether Azad was killed in an encounter or a fake encounter.

"A judicial inquiry is a must to establish whether it was an encounter or fake encounter. I will meet Home Minister P. Chidambaram in Delhi tomorrow and will put forth the same to him that put this matter into inquiry from your side and let its result come out. The consequences will follow suit in the coming days," he added.

He also claimed that Azad was ready for a dialogue with the government and was to announce a date for the same before his unfortunate death.

He described Operation Green Hunt as a wasteful exercise that should be shelved.

Azad was killed in the Jogapur forest area of Andhra Pradesh's Adilabad District early last Friday, while attempting to cross into neighbouring Maharashtra.

He was a member of the central committee of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and carried a reward of 1.2 million rupees on his head.

Azad, who did his MTech in Warangal, was linked to the Maoist movement for more than 35 years and used to write articles for magazines on Maoist ideology.

There are reports that Azad was assigned the task of revising the Maoist movement in India.

Maoist attacks have increased this year, especially after the Government launched a coordinated security offensive involving tens of thousands of police trying to flush out the rebels from their jungle hideouts in central and eastern India. (ANI)

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