Mediators hopeful of resolving abduction crisis `very soon`

Maoist-chosen mediators held discussions with hardcore Naxal leader Ganti Prasadam on the release of abducted Malkangiri district collector and an engineer.

Last Updated: Feb 22, 2011, 16:01 PM IST

Bhubaneswar: Maoist-chosen mediators held
discussions with hardcore Naxal leader Ganti Prasadam on the
release of abducted Malkangiri district collector and an
engineer and said they were hopeful of resolution of the
six-day crisis "very soon, may be today".

"Suggestions made by Ganti Prasadam will be discussed
with the state government and negotiations were likely to be
complete and crisis resolved very soon, may be today," said
interlocutor Prof G Hargopal, who along with Dandapani Mohanty
met Prasadam for two hours in high-security Jharapada jail
here.
State Home Secretary U N Behera also said the crisis
was expected to be resolved very soon.
Prasadam`s talks with mediators assumed significance
as it came at a time when negotiation appeared to have reached
a decisive stage.

Talks between Orissa government and mediators resumed
for the third day after two of the three interlocutors met
Prasadam in the jail here.

As Malkangiri Collector R V Krishna, a 2005 batch IAS
officer, and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi spent the seventh
day in captivity, contentious Naxal demands like release of
Maoists and tribals and withdrawal of BSF and CRPF from
Koraput and Malkangiri were being discussed, officials said.

Prasadam, brought here from Koraput jail amidst tight
security, sounded positive saying "now the common
responsibility before us is to defuse the situation. The
impasse should not not be allowed to continue for long," they
maintained.

A close aide of top Maoist leader Ramakrishna,
Prasadam has moved a bail petition before the Orissa High
Court along with four other Naxals. The state government has
decided not to oppose Prasadam`s bail, they said.

Participation of Prasadam in the negotiations
remained one of the major demands of the Maoists who had
abducted Krishna and Majhi on February 16 from Chitrakonda
area of Malkangiri district.
Prof Hargopal had earlier suggested to the state
government that Prasadam`s release from jail would help in
ensuring safe release of the abducted officials.

Another Naxal Sriramulu Srinivasulu, whose release was
also sought by Maoists, has moved bail plea before a Fast
Track court in Malkangiri. The court is scheduled to pronounce
the judgement.

While eight of the 14 demands of Maoists were settled
between mediators and state government officials yesterday,
discussion on the remaining six would hold key to resolution
of crisis, sources said.

The settled issues included recognising Konda Reddy
and Nokadora communities as Scheduled Tribe, steps for
scrapping Pollavaram multi-purpose dam project in Andhra
Pradesh, issue of land pattas to tribals whose land had
allegedly been taken away in Malkangiri and Koraput, extension
of a canal project in Malkangiri and compensation to families
of two persons who died in jail custody due to alleged torture
in Koraput, Behera said.

The state government would also take steps to
facilitate release of two central committee members of
CPI(Maoist) Sila Di and Padma lodged in Jharkhand and
Chhattisgarh jails, he said.

The issue of stoppage of bauxite mining in Mali and
Deomali hills in Koraput and Rayagada districts was also
resolved, he said.

"We have been assured by the mediators that Krishna`s
health is fine and there is no cause of concern," he said
adding both the hostages, abducted on February 16, were safe.

The negotiation was now focused on the demand for
release of certain Maoist leaders and tribals lodged in jails
on charge of being Naxals, withdrawal of BSF and CRPF from
Malkangiri and Koraput districts.

"Talks between the government and interlocutors are
proceeding in the right direction and a settlement is expected
to be reached very soon," sources said.

PTI