A day after Maoists killed civilians, including women, in an attack on a bus in Dantewada, home minister P Chidambaram threw down the peace gauntlet before the ultras, calling on them to cease violence for at least 72 hours so that a dialogue could be initiated. The “challenge’’ came as the home minister looked keen to drive home the point that while the government has not shunned dialogue—something a section of civil society activists have accused it of doing—it was for the Maoists to demonstrate their sincerity to any sort of a peaceful resolution. With the BJP attacking him for appearing “martyred and injured’’, Chidambaram appealed to all political parties to maintain a bipartisan approach in dealing with the Red ultras. On dialogue, he told a TV channel, “Maoists should say we will suspend violence and actually suspend violence from any date they fix for 72 hours...We will get the chief ministers on board. We will respond. We will fix a date, time and place for talks and let the Maoists come and talk on anything they wish to talk (about).’’ Chidambaram had made a similar offer three months ago, with no response. Instead, from February, the Naxalites had stepped up their attacks, killing over 140 people, including civilians, in Chhattisgarh, Orissa and West Bengal.