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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Ban lifted on Indian Maoist group
A woman member of the PWG
The PWG says it is active in 14 Indian states
The government in India's southern Andhra Pradesh state has lifted a ban on a Maoist rebel organisation, the People's War Group (PWG).

The ban, imposed in 1992, is not being renewed ahead of planned peace talks after 30 years of conflict which have claimed an estimated 6,000 lives.

The move was announced after the two sides met on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the PWG, which wants a communist state, described the government's move as bold.

He said the ban had affected not just the group, but the people of the state as well.

Mediation

Andhra Pradesh Home Minister K Jana Reddy, said the decision not to renew the ban was made after appeals made by various sections of the population.

"We hope this will create the right atmosphere to carry forward the process of dialogue to find a permanent solution," the Press Trust of India quoted him as saying.

PWG IN ANDHRA PRADESH
In 1980, PWG launched by teacher Kondapally Seetharamaih
Police started action against the PWG in the mid-1980s
Muppal Lakshman Rao, alias Ganpathy, ousts leadership in 1991 to bring more extremist agenda
Failed assassination attempt on then chief minister Chandrababu Naidu in 2003
Agrees ceasefire on 16 June, 2004

He also cautioned the group against moving about with arms.

However, PWG policymakers told the BBC that they have a right to keep arms for their self defence.

No date for formal talks has been set but preliminary discussions have been held.

It is hoped they will lead to direct negotiations between the state's chief minister and rebel leaders after the authorities offered a ceasefire in mid-June.

Several prominent civil liberties activists and veteran journalists are helping to mediate between the two sides.

If the talks do go ahead, it will be the second time both sides have come together.

The last negotiations in 2002 broke down after three rounds.




SEE ALSO:
Peace offer to India's Maoists
08 Jun 04  |  South Asia
India's Maoist revolutionaries
08 Apr 04  |  South Asia
India rebels vow to fight on
20 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Talks offer for Andhra Pradesh rebels
31 Jul 01  |  South Asia


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