Maoists willing to negotiate, says Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


Bangalore : Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Saturday said Maoists in West Bengal’s Lalgarh are willing to sit at negotiating table if their basic demands for water and electricity are met.

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Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who is the founder of the Art of Living foundation, Friday talked to rebel leader Chakradhar Mahato and asked the group to lay down their arms.

“The Maoists in Lalgarh have a few basic demands for water, electricity, schools in their local language, compensation for deaths in the on-going violence and cases against them to be withdrawn. As many as 118 Maoists are willing to come to the negotiating table if the government can agree to these terms,” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said in a statement.

He has conveyed the Maoists’ stand to Home Minister P. Chidambaram and West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

“Sri Sri has also been attempting to get in touch with the West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on this issue,” the statement said.

A representative of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has reached Lalgarh and is in talks with both Maoists and the state government to bring peace to the troubled region.

Lalgarh has been on the boil since last November when a landmine exploded on the route of the convoy of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and then central ministers Ram Vilas Paswan and Jitin Prasada.

Complaining of police atrocities after the blast, the angry tribals launched an agitation virtually cutting off the area from the rest of the district. During the last few days, the agitators have torched CPI-M offices, driven away the party’s supporters and forced the police to leave, thereby establishing a zone virtually under their control.

Meanwhile, security forces are taking on the rebels on the third day of the offensive Saturday to free the area of the left wing radicals.