Bijapur: The Chhattisgarh government is holding "secret" talks with Maoists for the safe release of four kidnapped policemen, with a 48-hour rebel deadline set to end Tuesday evening, a police source said.
"The government has established a backdoor contact with a section of the military unit of the Communist Party of0 India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). It is holding secret talks with the rebels," the reliable source told IANS.
"We are looking into their (Maoists) demands. We have conveyed our intention that the deadline should be extended comprehensively. No demand can be met with a trigger on our heads," the source said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is tightlipped over the "secret talks". The government has refused to engage in any talks with the guerrillas.
Chief Minister Raman Singh has urged the Maoists to release the abducted policemen on humanitarian grounds.
On Sep 19 Maoists abducted seven policemen from Bhopalpatnam in Bijapur, over 500 km from Raipur, close to the Andhra Pradesh border.
Three policemen were killed a day later. Assistant sub-inspector Sukhram Bhagat and constables B. Toppo, Narendra Bhosle and Subhash Ratre are held captive.
"The jungle search for rescuing them has been further stepped up. We are doing the best to track down the guerrillas," Superintendent of Police (Bijapur) R.N. Das said.
He said police are using choppers to scan the forests where the rebels are believed to be holding the policemen.
After a week of uncertainty over the fate of the cops, Maoists Sunday evening set a 48-hour deadline for releasing them. The rebels dropped a few handwritten leaflets in Bijapur district`s interiors stating their demands.
"The Maoists have demanded an end to the anti-Maoist drive Green Hunt, release of a few villages of Bijapur arrested on charges of unlawful activities, judicial probe into alleged fake encounters and initiating peace talks," Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan told IANS.
The Chhattisgarh government claims to be in touch with Andhra Pradesh to achieve a breakthrough in the hostage crisis. Intelligence inputs say the rebels were shuttling the abducted policemen from one densely forested location to another between Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, family members of the policemen camping in Bijapur town here have called upon the Maoists to free them, promising that all of them will quit the police force.