Orissa hostage crisis: Mediators flown to Malkangiri

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BHUBANESWAR - Agreeing to one of the new demands put forward by Maoists, the Orissa government Thursday rushed two mediators to Malkangiri to negotiate the release of Malkangiri District Collector R. Vineel Krishna, official sources here said.

G. Haragopal and Dandapani Mohanty were flown in a state helicopter.

“They will land in Koraput and go to an undisclosed area and interact with the Maoists,” the source said.

R. Vineel Krishna continued to be in Maoist custody for the eighth day Thursday. The original deadline of his release set by his abductors was Thursday evening.

The rebels Wednesday put forward new conditions, including setting free some more Maoists, within hours of releasing Pabitra Mohan Majhi, the junior engineer who was abducted along with Krishna Feb 16.

State Chief Secretary B.K. Patnaik, speaking to reporters here, said: “They (the mediators) have requested the Maoists to respect the decision taken and release the collector within 48 hours.”

“We are hopeful that by the evening we should have something positive,” Home Secretary U.N. Behera said.

“The government on its own cannot release any prisoners. Bails have to be moved, and the court is the appropriate authority to take a decision,” a senior state official, not wishing to disclose his name, told IANS.

However, according to sources, government lawyers may not object to such bail petitions.

The rebels Wednesday put forward new conditions within hours of releasing Pabitra Mohan Majhi. He was freed after the government gave in to nearly all the 14 demands of the rebels. The junior engineer said the Maoists could release the collector in 48 hours.

The negotiators had earlier said some of the Maoists new demands cannot be met, including their going to Malkangiri forests.

Maoists have demanded the release of their leaders Ganti Prasadam, Padma and Srinivas Sriramulu. They are also seeking that many other promient Maoists, including Ashutosh, Sobha, Tapan Mishra, Gananath Patra, Iswari, Sarita and Gokul Kuldipia, be set free.

While Ganti Prasadam was granted bail by the Orissa High Court Wednesday, a court in Malkangiri earlier this week granted bail to Srinivas Sriramulu.

Ganti Prasadam, however, said Wednesday he would continue to remain in jail until over 600 innocent people languishing in prisons on the charges of being involved in Maoist activities were released.

Srinivas Sriramulu, however, cannot be released because some more cases are pending against him, officials said.

Filed under: Terrorism

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