DM kidnapping: Orissa govt contacts mediators chosen by Naxals

Asking Maoists to extend their 2-day deadline, Orissa government on Friday said it has established contact with two mediators handpicked by the Naxals to negotiate the release of abducted Malkangiri District Collector R V Krishna.

Updated: Feb 18, 2011, 21:28 PM IST

Malkangiri/Bhubaneswar: Asking Maoists to
extend their two-day deadline, Orissa government on Friday said it
has established contact with two mediators handpicked by the
Naxals to negotiate the release of abducted Malkangiri
District Collector R V Krishna and a junior engineer.

"They (Maoists) had given three names for negotiation.
We have established contact with Prof Someswar Rao and Prof
Hargopal (both from Andhra Pradesh). They are willing to
mediate in the matter," Chief Secretary B K Patnaik told
reporters in Bhubaneswar after a marathon meeting at the chief
minister`s office here.
The two mediators have accepted the state government`s
request to issue an appeal for extension of two-day deadline
given by Naxals who kidnapped Krishna, a 30-year-old IAS
officer, and the junior engineer Pabitra Majhi on Wednesday,
the Chief Secretary said.

He said the state government has also contacted social
activist Swami Agnivesh, who indicated that the Naxals were
considering extending the time-frame of two days to meet their
seven-point demands including halt to anti-Naxal joint
operations, which has already been conceded, withdrawal of
BSF, release of 700 tribal Naxals and scrapping of Polavaram
water-sharing project with Andhra Pradesh.

Agnivesh said in New Delhi that he was willing to act
as a negotiator if Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself talks
to him and the state government is willing to release the
jailed tribals.

The Chief Secretary said the government would consider
the demands made by the Maoists. "Many demands may come up
during discussions. We are open to discussions," he said.

Asked whether the state government would agree to the
Maoist demand for release of seven persons, the chief
secretary said, "Those will come up during the discussions
with mediators."

The Chief Minister also appealed to the abductors to
extend the deadline. "We have also appealed to them (Naxals)
not to harm the collector and the junior engineer in their
captivity," Patnaik said.
Meanwhile, social scientist Hargopal told a TV channel
that the deadline set by the Maoists should be extended which
is the first requirement for negotiations.

Similarly, the state government should adopt a
positive approach and look into the demands of the Maoists, he
said, adding it should not be difficult to release on bail
some persons, including women, and it is in the government`s

The state government should also appoint a committee
to look into the problem of tribals who have allegedly lost
their land, Rao said and wanted the issue to be settled in
accordance with the Tribal Land Act.

However, with the deadline nearing, anxiety mounted
about the fate of the two officials.

"As the state government had stopped combing operation
and did not make any attempt to locate the abducted persons as
a matter of policy, the police has no information on their
possible whereabouts," a senior police officer engaged in
anti-Maoist operation said.

Soon after Patnaik`s appeal, Naxal ideologue Varavara
Rao said the release of seven persons who have been jailed in
"unreasonable and stray" cases would facilitate the safe
return of the hostages.

The rebels have cut off Malkangiri from the rest of
Orissa by felling trees on vast stretches and digging up the
main road connecting the district this morning.

Besides obstructing the road in mountainous and
forested Gobindpalli Ghati, the ultras put up a large number
of posters with their demands.

The state Assembly was this morning plunged into
turmoil over the issue with opposition Congress and ruling BJD
MLAs virtually coming to blows near the Speaker`s podium. The
Congress accused the government of failing to take the House
into confidence as it announced a halt to the combing

Krishna, a 2005 batch IAS officer, and Majhi were
abducted by some 50 Maoists during a visit to remote
Chitrakonda area for a camp for local development.

A four-page letter purportedly written by Naxals was
sent to some local media offices which suggested the names of
the interlocutors.

The abduction drew widespread condemnation as
thousands of people took out processions in several parts of
Orissa and appealed for the release of the two captives