Bhubaneswar: Facing a two-day deadline set by Maoists to meet their demands, Orissa government on Friday appealed to the abductors of Malkangiri District Collector R V
Krishna to extend the time-frame as it made efforts to negotiate the release of the IAS officer.
"My appeal to the concerned persons is to extend the deadline set for this evening and not to harm the abducted District Collector and the junior engineer," Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.
Showing willingness for talks for safe return of Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra majhi, Patnaik said, "We are in the process of trying to establish contact with persons
to discuss and negotiate the release."
Soon after Patnaik's appeal, Naxal ideologue VV Rao said he has asked the government to announce by this evening that it would release at least seven persons, who have been
jailed in "unreasonable and stray" cases. It would facilitate both extension of the deadline and release of the hostages, he said.
Though the government stopped anti-Maoist operations across the state yesterday, one of the demands of the Naxals, it was yet to receive any response or communication from the
rebels, a top official said.
On the other hand, the rebels 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 seven-point demands including stoppage of anti-Naxal joint operations, withdrawal of BSF, release of 700 tribal Naxals and scrapping of Polavaram water sharing project.
The state assembly plunged into turmoil over the issue with opposition Congress and ruling BJD MLAs virtually clashing with each other next to the Speaker's podium. The
Congress accused the government of failing to take the House into confidence as it announced the halt of the combing operation.
30-year-old 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.
As the authorities launched 'back channel' efforts for safe release of the two who were abducted on Wednesday evening, the state government has already contacted Maoist
sympathiser Varavara Rao and social activist Swami Agnivesh for help.
While Swami Agnivesh has expressed his willingness to extend help and mediate, Rao said he was already in touch with senior government officials giving them several suggestions.
While the government was waiting for a proper communication from the red rebels for talks, a four-page letter purportedly written by Naxals was sent to some local media offices, sources said.
Besides making a seven-point demand, the letter suggested some names for acting as interlocutors, they said.
Claiming that he was one of those suggested to be a mediator, social scientist Prof Har Gopal told a TV channel that the deadline set by Maoists for fulfillment of their demands should be extended which is the first requirement for negotiation.
Similarly, the state government should adopt a positive approach and look into the demands of Maoists, he said, adding for some persons, including women, it should not be difficult
to be released on bail and it is in the government's purview.
The state government should also appoint a committee to look into the problem of tribals who have allegedly lost their land, he said, adding the issue should be settled in
accordance with the Tribal Land Act.
The Chief Minister while appealing for an early release of the District Collector and the junior engineer, said the situation is being closely monitored.
While various options for safe and early release of the two hostages were being examined, the government was hopeful of getting a message from the rebels for negotiations on the
issue, official sources said.
The abduction of the two drew widespread condemnation as thousands of people took out processions in several parts of Orissa and appealed for the release of the two captives
First Published: Friday, February 18, 2011, 16:48