Hostage crisis: Maoists extend deadline

A District Collector and a junior engineer were abducted from Malkangiri district on Wednesday.

Updated: Feb 19, 2011, 09:59 AM IST

Malkangiri/Bhubaneswar: Maoists on Friday night
extended the two-day deadline indefinitely for the Orissa
government to meet their demands in return for the release of
Malkangiri District Collector R V Krishna and a junior
engineer held hostage for the third day.

The deadline was extended following an appeal from the state government even as the Maoists exploded a landmine on a
key road snapping links between Malkangiri district and rest
of Orissa.
The two mediators--Prof Someswar Rao and Prof Hargopal
(both from Andhra Pradesh)--who were handpicked by the Naxals
to negotiate the release of Krishna, a 30-year-old IAS
officer, and Pabitra Majhi told state Home Secretary U N
Behera that the deadline has been extended since some contacts
were being made with the Maoists.

Both Rao and Hargopal, who insisted that the deadline
must be extended before any negotiations could be held, are
likely to reach the state capital tomorrow.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh, who has been contacted
by the state government, to mediate the release of the two
captives, also confirmed that the deadline has been extended.

"The Maoists have extended the deadline indefinitely.
There is some progress...," Agnivesh said tonight but did not
elaborate. He appealed to the Maoists not to cause any bodily
harm to the two hostages.

Besides stopping anti-Naxal joint operations, which has
already been conceded, the seven-point demands included
withdrawal of BSF, release of 700 jailed tribal Naxals and
scrapping of Polavaram irrigation project in Andhra Pradesh.

In a bid to obstruct movement of security forces, the
rebels triggered the landmine blast in mountainous and
forested Malkangiri-Jeypor road, that connects the naxal-hit
district with rest of Orissa, the police said.

The ultras also brought traffic on the crucial state
highway road to a grinding halt by digging it up at several
places and felling a large number of giant trees at over five
places, they said.
No one was injured in the landmine blast as the road
was deserted without vehicular movement due to obstructions
created by the rebels, police added.

Orissa government earlier said it has established
contact with two of the three mediators named by the Maoists
for negotiations.

"They (Maoists) had given three names for negotiation.
We have established contact with Prof Someswar Rao and Prof
Hargopal. 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 and Majhi on Wednesday,
the Chief Secretary said.

He said the state government has also contacted
Swami Agnivesh.

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."

Hargopal earlier in the day said 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