Orissa anxiously awaits arrival of hostages at home

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BHUBANESWAR - Thousands of people in Orissa Wednesday anxiously awaited for the arrival of a district collector and a junior engineer kidnapped by Maoists last week after a mediator said they will be released, officials said.

G. Haragopal, the mediator, said Tuesday night that they will be released within 48 hours.

People from various walks of life, including women, children and media persons thronged the official residence of the district collector at Malkangiri town, about 618 km from here, to see if the hostages were back.

Although large number of people stayed in front of the house for over 12 hours, officials said the duo have not reached till Wednesday morning.

“They have not arrived yet,” a senior district police officer told IANS from Malkangiri. According to local television channels the hostages were freed and are on their way to the district headquarters.

But officials in Bhubaneswar did not confirm this. “Unless we see the officials physically we cannot confirm it,” a senior district administrative official said.

Haragopal, one of the three mediators chosen by the rebels, Tuesday night said they were working on the modalities that the hostages are back and the arrival of the hostages could take time because of some logistic issues.

Malkangiri District Collector R. Vineel Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi were abducted by the Maoists Feb 16. The Maoists, in a letter to the government, listed as many as 14 demands for the safe release of the two hostages.

The demands included halting anti-Maoist operations by security forces, release of all political prisoners, scrapping of accords with multi-national companies for land transfer and projects, and compensation for the families of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody.

The government agreed to all the demands after holding negotiations for three days in the state capital with the three mediators - Dandapani Mohanty, academicians G. Haragopal and R. Someswar Rao, chosen by the Maoists.

Filed under: Terrorism

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