Orissa hostage crisis may linger, says mediator

Monday, February 21, 2011

BHUBANESWAR - The release of an Orissa district collector and a junior engineer who have been in Maoist captivity since Feb 16 may take some more time as a key rebel ideologue is still behind bars, a mediator said Monday.

G. Haragopal, one of the three mediators chosen by the rebels, said the talks with Maoists may linger because Ganti Prasadam, a Maoist ideologue, has not been released yet. “It (the talks) may continue for some more time,” he said.

The district collector of Malkangiri, R. Vineel Krishna, and junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi, were abducted by Maoists Feb 16 evening.

Hours before the start of the second phase of negotiations Monday, Haragopal told a local television channel that “once Ganti Prasad is made available to us for consultation, the dialogue process will be faster”.

According to sources, state police secured a prison transfer warrant from a court and have already brought Prasadam from a jail in Andhra Pradesh Saturday night.

His lawyer might move a bail petition Monday in a court in Koraput, a senior state police officer said on condition of anonymity.

The government lawyer may not oppose this bail petition to facilitate the negotiation process, he said. After that it depends on the court. It is the prerogative of the judge to decide if he wants to grant bail or not, an expert said.

The Maoists, in a letter to the government, listed their demands for the safe release of the hostages. These included halting of anti-Maoist operations by security forces, release of all political prisoners, the scrapping of accords with MNCs and compensation for the families of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody.

Filed under: Terrorism

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