Raipur: The Naxals on Tuesday night extended by 24 hours the deadline set for the release of four policemen held captive by them even as the Chhattisgarh government said there were positive talks with the Maoists on the safe return of the hostages.
"The Maoists have extended the existing 48-hour deadline by 24 hours," a top police officer told reporters.
The official said negotiations with the Naxals through local media and social activists have been positive.
In exchange of the four policemen - assistant sub-inspector Sukhruram Bhagat, constables Narendra Bhosale, Subhash Patre and B Toppo -- the Naxals had set a deadline of 48 hours to consider their demands that included calling off `Operation Greenhunt`, releasing jailed cadres, curtailing police atrocities and initiating peace talks.
The government also expressed confidence in ensuring the safe release of the policemen.
"The state government has started talks with the Maoists via media and social activists. Till now the outcome of the talks has been positive," Principal Secretary (Home) N K Aswal said in Raipur.
A joint team from Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh comprising local media and social activists are holding talks with the Naxals, state officials said.
According to Aswal, appeals made from various quarters including those from the family members, social activists, Chief Minister Raman Singh and Maoist sympathiser Vara Vara Rao to free the four unharmed, has had a positive effect on the Naxals.
Aswal also said the government is looking into the demands of the Naxals. "The government wants to ensure the safe return of the kidnapped policemen."
Seven policemen were abducted by Naxals on September 19 from Bhopalpatnam near Chhattisgarh-Andhra Pradesh border.
The bodies of three of them were recovered two days later with Maoist literature while remaining four are still in captivity.
According to police, a woman relative of a SPO is also in captivity of the Naxals.