Vijayawada, Nov 7 : After having dealt a body blow to the outlawed CPI(Maoist) by killing 28 of its cadre in an encounter on the Andhra-Odisha border recently, Andhra Pradesh Police have now opened its doors to the ultras for “talks” with the only rider that they first shun arms. Unlike in 2004, when the political leadership of then united Andhra Pradesh under Y S Rajasekhara Reddy took the initiative and engaged the Maoists in peace talks, which though bore no fruit, the current offer has come only from police.

“Basically, we see it as a major internal security problem. So it is in our interest that we engage them in talks,” Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police (in charge) Nanduri Sambasiva Rao said today. “We are always ready for talks. But they should first give up arms. This has been our consistent position,” he said, adding if the Maoists lay down arms, police will welcome it. Replying to a query, the DGP said police’s combing operation in the AOB area ceased on October 28, four days after the major encounter.

Rao said that he had briefed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi about the encounter and its aftermath a couple of days ago. “All along, we maintained that Maoist top leader Ramakrishna alias RK is not in our custody and their admission that he is safe only vindicated us,” he said. In a dramatic announcement on November 3, the Revolutionary Writers Association (RWA) had said that Akkiraju Haragopal alias Ramakrishna alias RK was “safe”.

The top Maoist leader was reported missing since the encounter took place on October 24. The DGP said he took up with the Union Home Minister the issue of establishing the Greyhounds Training Centre in the state as per the provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. “We had the best training institute for our Greyhounds (the elite anti-Naxal force) but we lost it (to Telangana) in the bifurcation. No we have to build it from scratch,” he said.

The DGP said, “We submitted a proposal for setting up the training centre at a cost of Rs 850 crore. The Home Minister agreed to fund the project in phases and accordingly we will take up the first phase at a cost of Rs 400 crore. It will come up in Visakhapatnam district.” He said the Centre has also agreed to release Rs 153 crore as its share for establishing the state-of-the-art Forensic Science Laboratory in the state capital region. The state government would bear the rest Rs 100 crore. “This will be developed as a Centre of Excellence in forensics and DNA fingerprinting,” Sambasiva Rao said.