The apprehension that Maoists may shun the government’s peace initiative has come true with not a single Maoist surrendering during the six-day ceasefire announced by the government, which ended on Sunday at 6 pm. Combing operations against Maoists was stopped after Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar declared a ceasefire from September 17, 6 am to September 23, 6 pm. Though the government had claimed that some Maoist leaders were willing to surrender, no one came forward. Interestingly, they did not even send any message rejecting the offer.
But the ceasefire may have only helped the Maoists slip into safer territory. “In the one week that the operation was stopped, they might have held meetings in the forest to chalk out their future moves. The ceasefire has helped them move freely and reorganize,” an officer said. “During combing operations, they were always scared of police action. But as we were silent for one week, they might have got reinforcements (both members and arms) and also food supplies,” he added.
However, the ceasefire seems to have helped the government too. Sympathizers, till now, were blaming the government for its action against the Maoists and were demanding that the Maoists be given an opportunity to join the mainstream. But with the government announcing a ceasefire to give them a chance, it is now in the clear. “By declaring a ceasefire, the government had initiated peace talks with the Maoists and provided a good opportunity to help them join the mainstream. Though the window of opportunity was kept open, it is sad that Maoist have rejected it,” a senior police officer said. “Earlier, the government and police department were criticized for offensive against Maoists. Now that the Maoists themselves have rejected our offer, we are morally strong. We have done our duty. It is the Maoists who rejected the offer,” he added.