How would you describe your departure from the Maoist "people's government"-as a dissident, an escapee, or as someone who surrenders to the government?
My [press] release makes clear my stand on this issue, on my connection with the revolutionary people's council. I would say that in the time I was underground, I acted independently most of the time. People might speculate, but I have clearly stated in my release that I dissent from the party line. I have clarified that I disagree with the policies of the Jana Parishad (the "people's council"). Disagreeing with policies is rebelling. I was a professional before, and I want to concentrate on the business of being a professional again. I would also like to continue being concerned and vigilant about human rights violations at the national and international levels.
How do you think we should move ahead, past the political mess we are in now?
I would say that we should find a peaceful solution; that is possible within the framework of the present constitution. We got this constitution through the 1990 People's Movement. Progress is impossible unless we protect it.
People find it hard to believe that you just decided to come aboveground. You say you disagreed with the policies of the "people's council". Which ones exactly did you have the most reservations about?
First of all, I was not allowed to function there. I was consulted and then declared a member of the Jana Parishad, so I cannot point out where I had the most reservations. Since I was interested from the start, I did not even learn why the Jana Parishad was established and with what aims. As far as your query about why I rebelled, principles and politics will always be debated. Our first priority should be establishing peace, different parties might have disagreements, but we need to find a point from where we can sit across the table and start talking to find some place where we can agree.
You must have learnt a lot from your experience of being underground?
Obviously my life took a different turn when I went underground-that is bound to happen when you try to change the whole course of your life.s I learnt about life and living. I learnt about the differences between principles and practicing them for real, now I want to apply that in my real life.
Did you find that the Maoists are true to their colours?
I would rather not comment on that because I did not work with them. All I would like to emphasise is that the present impasse can only be broken through talks and compromises for the sake of the life of the people and the future of this country.
So you now fully realise that a politics of violence does not yield results?
As a human rights activist, I never supported violence, not even when I was underground. My principle is that one should never take up arms or turn to violence.
Would you like to continue with politics, now that you are aboveground?
I will work for human rights and peace. I firmly believe that a peaceful solution to the present problem can be found within the present constitution. I will function independently, but in line with progressive thought. As a progressive intellectual, I will try my best to serve this country.
Do you feel threatened, being a dissident from the Maoist party?
Everyone should be able to think and analyse with responsibility and sensitivity. I have appealed to everyone for the protection of my life. I never intended to harm others, I have just attempted to make myself clear-everyone has a right to have opinions. No one should feel too intimidated to have a difference of opinion.
Have you appealed to the national and international communities for your protection?
I came aboveground in the presence of the president of the National Human Rights Commission and other human rights activists. Being a human rights activist myself, I have faith that the human rights community of this country will be concerned about my safety. I also have faith that the political parties will be keen to help restore my life to normal.