Orissa intensifies efforts for collector’s release

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BHUBANESWAR - Malkangiri district collector R. Vineel Krishna continued to be in Maoist custody for the eighth day Thursday even as Orissa intensified efforts for his release by evening. Negotiations hit a roadblock after the rebels set new conditions, including setting free some more Maoist leaders from jail.

“The government of 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, who did not want to disclose his name, told IANS.

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

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

But negotiators say some of the demands cannot be met.

“For the release of the district collector they have set certain conditions,” said G. Haragopal, an academician and one of the three mediators in the hostage crisis. “It will not be possible for us to abide by these conditions,” he said.

“We have a feeling that this will complicate the matter,” he added.

Dandapani Mohanty, another mediator, was a little more forthcoming. “They want the mediators to visit Malkangiri district. The new conditions are not acceptable to us. We appeal to them to release the collector as per the deadline of 48 hours (Thursday evening).”

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

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

Ganti Prasadam, however, said Wednesday that he would continue to remain in jail until over 600 innocent people languishing in prison 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.

Junior engineer Majhi was released after the government gave in to nearly 14 demands of the rebels.

The state government and mediators have expressed surprise over the new demands and said the rebels should keep their promise and release the district collector by Thursday evening.

Filed under: Terrorism

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