"The home minister (P Chidambaram) has made a public statement that government is ready to talk to them (Maoists) provided they eschew violence. And the answer we have got yesterday from West Bengal," Attorney General G E Vahanvati told a bench comprising justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar.
Vahanvati made the statement after advocate Prashant Bhushan spoke about the alleged human rights violation by state agencies in their fight against Naxals in Chhattisgarh. In the backdrop of the killing of 24 paramilitary personnel at a camp at Silda in West Midnapore district, Vahanvati said he was sharing the view of Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium that nobody wants to go (to fight Naxals) with a death band on forehead.
"We do not want to perpetuate a situation like a civil war," he said before a bench which was hearing the petitions relating to the Chhattisgarh tribals, who had allegedly gone missing after the filing of a petition seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into killing of about 10 people during the anti-Naxal operations.
Subramanium said "the fight against the Naxals is not based on political lines and both the Centre and the Chhattisgarh government are equally concerned about the human rights". When attention was drawn about various reports, the bench said "we don't generally rely on newspapers and magazine reports
but some of the reports are really disturbing." The bench referred to a report in one of the magazine, which talked about two lakh villagers fleeing the Maoist-hit areas. It wanted to know about the government's developmental steps which could help in arresting violence.
On a related matter concerning Chhattisgarh, Subramanium said such issues have been considered but the most important requirement was confidence building measures through talks which would help in developing certain degree of trust. Meanwhile, the bench was told that the six of the 12 tribals produced by the Chhattisgarh government on Monday recorded their statement before the district judge which went peacefully without any controversy.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the tribals, claimed that "they have confirmed the massacre but they don't know who were involved". The bench directed the apex court registry that copies of the statement and report prepared by the district judge should be made available to the Centre, Chhattisgarh government and petitioners. It directed the Chhattisgarh government to provide safe passage to the six tribals to the place from where they were brought and would be at liberty to go at the place of their choice. The apex court clarified that "its order for producing other six persons is alive". The Attorney General said all efforts would be made to trace them and comply with the order.
The court was hearing the petition filed by the right activist Himanshu Kumar and kin of the tribals killed in the anti-Naxal operation last October. The matter has been posted for further hearing on Monday.