Hostage crisis: Maoist leader shifted to Bhubaneswar

Ganti Prasadam had expressed his desire to participate in the negotiations with the state govt for freedom of abducted Collector and junior engineer taken hostage by the Maoists.

Bhubaneswar: A day before the most sensitive
issue relating to Maoist demands on release of some of their
leaders in return for freedom for abducted Collector and
junior engineer is taken up at the meeting between Orissa
government and mediators on Tuesday, a prominent Naxal leader
Ganti Prasadam was shifted to the state capital.

Prasadam, who had earlier in the day had expressed desire
to participate in the negotiation with the state government,
would arrive the state capital by Tuesday morning, official
sources said.

"Ganti Prasadam was being shifted from Koraput to
Bhubaneswar with the prior permission of the local
sub-divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM) on security reason",
a senior prison official said.

A close aide of top Maoist leader Ramakrishna, Ganti
Prasadam was being brought to the state capital amidst tight
security from Koraput, a senior police official said.

After his arrival in Bhubaneswar, the three mediators selected
by Maoists, Prof G Hargopal, Prof R S Rao and Dandapani
Mohanty, could consult him in the jail at Jharpada.

However, it was unlikely that Prasadam would share the
table with the Home secretary UN Behera and Panchayati Raj
secretary SN Tripathy.

Under no circumstances, Ganti Prasadam could be brought
to the state guest house where the negotiation was in progress
for the last two days, a senior official said.

However, there were two options, said a senior
official of the Law department. "First, the mediators and
others could meet Ganti Prasadam in the jail and hold
discussion with him there. The second option was that the
government had to declare the state guest house as a temporary
jail where Ganti could be brought for discussion", the
official said.

Participation of Ganti Prasadam in the negotiations
remained one of the major demands of the Maoists who had
abducted Malkangiri collector RV Krishna and junior engineer
Pabitra Majhi on February 16.

Earlier, Ganti Prasadam`s lawyer Nihar Ranjan Patnaik said that
his client was keen to participate in the

Prof G Hargopal, one of the three mediators, had
earlier suggested to the state government that Ganti
Prasadam`s release from jail would help in ensuring safe
release of the abducted officials.

Prof Hargopal had also said that he was
expecting that "some representatives of the Maoist party"
would join the talks.

Though Prasadam was more than willing to be part of the
negotiations with the state government, his bail petition was
rejected by the sub-divisional judicial magistrate`s court at
Koraput on Sunday. Meanwhile, his lawyer had moved the High
Court seeking bail which was likely to be heard on Wednesday.

After realising that Ganti Prasadam`s release could be
helpful to end the hostage crisis, the state government has
decided not to oppose his bail when it comes up for hearing at
the higher court, sources said.


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