Patna: Maoists in Bihar have extended till 10 a.m the deadline for releasing their eight jailed commanders, failing which they have threatened to kill the four policemen they have abducted.
The Maoists had earlier set the deadline at 4 p.m. Wednesday. But Maoist spokesperson Avinash later told local Hindi news channels that they had decided to extend the deadline till Thursday morning in view of the appeal made by the family members of the abducted policemen.
Avinash, however, made it clear that state government had not made any move to fulfil their demand despite the first deadline having expired.
The Bihar government
indicated it might consider holding talks with the ultras as
the swapping deadline ended in the evening.
"We may think of holding talks, but at this stage,
with whom? Should we talk to people in the air? They (Maoists)
have not officially approached us as yet on any demand,"
DGP Neelmani told reporters while he was meeting relatives of
the kidnapped policemen at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar`s
The four captive policemen have also appealed to the state government to release the eight jailed Maoist commanders. All four said they were safe and healthy.
However, time is running out for the four as the rebels announced that they will be forced to take action against them once the fresh deadline expires.
Maoists abducted the policemen during the six-hour-long gunfight in Lakhisarai district Sunday. The gun battle left seven policemen dead and 10 injured. Maoists claimed that the gunfight was in retaliation to the alleged staged shootout in which Maoist leader Azad and a journalist were killed.
The families of four abducted policemen have appealed to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to release the eight jailed Maoist commanders for the safe release of their kin.
"We have requested the chief minister to release Maoists to ensure safe release of my son," Manju Sinha, the mother of Rupesh Kumar Sinha, one of the four abducted policemen, told IANS on the phone from Bettiah in West Champaran district.
Rajni Devi, the wife of Abhay Yadav, another abducted policeman, met Nitish Kumar Tuesday evening and returned with the assurance that the state government would rescue her husband soon.
According to an official source in the Chief Minister`s Office here, Nitish Kumar is himself supervising the rescue operations of the four policemen.
"Nitish Kumar is instructing policemen engaged in rescue operations as his government`s image is at stake ahead of the upcoming state assembly polls," the source said.
Bihar police chief Neelmani and senior police officials have been working towards rescuing the four but stressed that they would not bow to the Maoists` demand to release eight jailed rebel commanders.
"The state government has not received any ultimatum from the Maoists in this connection. We have got information through the media about Maoists` ultimatum... and it may or may not be true," Neelmani said.
Neelmani said rescue operations have been launched by combined forces of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Special Task Force of Bihar Police in the hilly terrain of Lakhisarai and its adjoining Jamui and Munger districts.
Maoist spokesperson Avinash said he had already communicated the rebels` demand to the chief minister`s official residence to release eight Maoist commanders lodged in Bihar jails. "In case the government fails to release them, we will be compelled to kill the four policemen," he said.
The Maoists` ultimatum to the Bihar government was issued Tuesday.
Avinash, who is the spokesman for Maoists of Jamui, Munger, Lakhisarai, Banka and Bhagalpur districts, described the attack on police as the rebels` answer to the government`s Operation Green Hunt against them.
He also warned the Bihar government of more violent attacks if the operations against Maoists were not immediately stopped.