Maoists to release 3 cops; reject talks
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Last Updated: Sunday, September 05, 2010, 09:03
  
Jamui/Patna: A solution to the week-long hostage crisis in Bihar appeared to be in sight with a Maoist leader claiming that the three kidnapped policemen will be freed on Sunday, just hours after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar invited the rebels for talks and appealed for their release on Saturday.

Avinash, a self-proclaimed spokesman for the Maoists, claimed that the central committee of the ultra-left wing group had decided to let off the three policemen held captives by them by 8 AM on Sunday after it rejected the talks offer.

"The Maoists Central Committee met in jungles near Jamui late this evening after the all party meeting chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar offered talks with us... we are not going to get influenced by it," Avinash reportedly told some local mediamen in Jamui.

He said the committee had decided to release the hostages "unconditionally on humanitarian considerations."

However, there was no official confirmation to the Maoist move to release Rupesh Kumar Sinha, Mohammad Ehsaan and Abhay Yadav.

When contacted, Director General of Police Neelmani said he was not aware of any information abbout this.

He, however, said the search operations would continue in the districts of Jamui, Lakhisarai, Munger, Banka and Kaimur for securing safe release of the hostages.

Avinash said he would like to make it clear that the hostages will not be handed over either to police or mediamen. "We will send them to their respective families safe and sound," he said.

Under intense pressure to end the hostage crisis coming just ahead of Assembly elections in the state, Kumar even offered them safe passage for the talks after securing an all party consensus.

A day after the bullet-riddled body of Lucas Tete, one of the four abducted policemen, was found, Kumar said the all party meeting convened by him also appealed to the Maoists to release unharmed the three remaining hostages who the rebels said were safe.

The Government offer for talks after a Maoist spokesman called for an immediate dialogue came on a day when Police arrested nine naxalites including two who were reported to be involved in the kidnapping incident in Lakhisarai district on Sunday. The arrest of the rebels came when combing operations were expanded to fresh areas in Munger district.

"I am personally ready for holding talks with the Maoists. We guarantee providing full security and safe passage to Maoist representatives irrespective of the outcome. No police action will be taken, "Kumar told reporters after an all party meeting here. "We want face-to-face talks with Naxals."

The Maoists are demanding that eight of their arrested cadres be freed in exchange for the release of the hostages.

Kumar said he had come across media reports that a person called Avinash claiming to be a spokesman of the Maoists had asked for talks.

"But can the talks take place over phone? It is impossible to know their grievances unless they come forward for negotiations," Kumar said.

He said representatives from political parties would also be present during the talks.

Avinash earlier in the day rang up media offices including PTI and said the three abducted policemen were safe and demanded the Bihar government immediately halt operations and call for talks.

Avinash said the rebels would provide an audio CD with the voices of the three policemen.

However, he said time was running out and the state government should immediately hold talks for the release of the three, he said.

"We want the state government should halt the operations and hurry to hold talks for securing the safe release of the three hostages," he said.

In Jamui district, police sources said that two Naxalites including Pinki Yadav were apprehended in Jamui town this morning when they were speaking to their colleagues from a telephone booth. They were beleived to be involved in the abduction of the policemen.

Seven suspected ultras were also arrested during intensified search in Munger district by security forces, a top police official said.

On reports that the mastermind of the encounter in which the Maoists killed seven policemen and looted around 35 rifles has been arrested, Director General of Police (DGP) Neelmani told PTI "We have no information about it".

"The area of combing has been further expanded to the districts of Banka, Kaimur and fresh hilly and forest areas in Munger, Jamui and Lakhisarai districts," he said.

The body of kidnapped assistant sub-inspector of the Bihar Military Police ASI Lucas Tete was found at the Simra Tari Sringirishi dam in Kajra police station area, about 150 km from Patna, yesterday.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, September 05, 2010, 09:03


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