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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Talks offer for Andhra Pradesh rebels
Maoist rebels in Bihar
Maoist rebels are active in many parts of India
By Omer Farooq in Hyderabad

The government in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has said for the first time that it is willing to hold talks with the outlawed Maoist People's War Group.

The announcement follows an upsurge of violence in recent months by the PWG - which is the most prominent among several Maoist rebel groups in the region.

The authorities say they are now evolving a new strategy to fight rural poverty which, they believe, is the main cause of the violence.

The problems posed by the rebels was discussed at a high level meeting in the state capital, Hyderabad, on Tuesday.

Measures

Andhra Pradesh Home Minister Devender Goud said the government believed the problem could not be tackled by the police force alone, and that several other departments would have to be involved.

He said that core issues such as poverty and unemployment have to be urgently addressed.

Damaged police station in Andhra Pradesh
The PWG has increased violence in recent months
Mr Goud said the government was ready to talk to the PWG and any other extreme-left group and added that the cabinet would soon discuss whether to accept some of the PWG's conditions for such talks.

The government also says that it has decided to prepare a draft document covering issues which need to be tackled by various departments.

The aim of the new strategy would be to distribute land among the poor, ensure speedy justice for villagers and improve the functioning of various agencies and departments in remote villages.

Powerful group

The PWG had earlier said it was ready for talks with the government.

However, it demands the withdrawal of police camps from remote areas and an inquiry in to all "fake encounter killings" by the police.

Andhra Pradesh has faced the problem of Maoist violence for the past three decades.

The PWG is the most powerful Maoist organisation in the area.

Set up in 1980, it is waging an armed struggle for the creation of a communist state in the tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh.

It has targeted landlords, charging them with exploiting poor people.

More than 6,000 people have died in the violence between the Maoist groups and police during last two decades.

See also:

01 Nov 00 | South Asia
Women 'rebels' killed in India
16 Dec 99 | South Asia
State minister killed by rebels
10 Dec 99 | South Asia
Concession to Andhra Pradesh rebels
01 Dec 99 | South Asia
Four dead in mine blast
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