Efforts to secure release of collector gain momentum
Bhuvaneshwara: With Maoists extending the deadline for Orissa government to meet their demands, efforts for release of Malkangiri District Collector R. V. Krishna and a junior engineer through negotiations gained pace today.
As Mr. Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi spent the fourth day in captivity, the two mediators handpicked by Maoists and contacted by Orissa Government are expected to arrive here shortly in order to speed up the process of negotiations, official sources said.
The state government has been in regular contact with the two Hyderabad-based interlocutors – Prof. Someswar Rao and Prof. Hargopal – and the process was gathering momentum, according to Home Secretary U. N. Behera.
Following appeal by Orissa government and others, the 48-hour deadline for fulfilment of their demands was extended by Maoists, who had abducted the 30-year-old IAS officer of 2005 batch and Majhi on Wednesday evening, sources said.
“Now everything will depend on the manner the talks proceed,” the sources said.
While some contacts were already being made with the Maoists, both Rao and Hargopal insisted that the deadline must remain extended to ensure smooth and meaningful negotiations to secure the release of the two hostages.
The mediators and social activist Swami Agnivesh, who has been contacted by the state government, have appealed to the Maoists not to cause any bodily harm to the hostages.
Besides halt to anti-Naxal joint combing operations, which has already been conceded, the seven-point demands included withdrawal of BSF, release of 700 jailed tribal Naxals and scrapping of Polavaram multi-purpose dam project in Andhra Pradesh.
The abduction of Mr. Krishna and Mr. Majhi from remote Chitrakonda area, a Maoist stronghold in Malkangiri district bordering Andhra Pradesh, has drawn widespread condemnation with people from all walks of life staging peace rallies in different parts of the state seeking their early and safe release.