Thursday, February 24, 2011

Maoists put up fresh demands for collector's release

The Maoists put forward fresh demands after releasing the junior engineer Pabitra Majhi on Wednesday, putting a question mark over Malkangiri collector R. Vineel Krishna's return. Theinterlocutors negotiating with the state government confirmed that the Maoists have put forward new conditions for the release of the collector.
"This can complicate things," G. Hargopal, one of the three interlocutors, said. He appealed to the Maoists to release the collector latest by Thursday. "We had given assurance to the Orissa government that he will be released within 48 hours. We request them to release the collector tomorrow," Hargopal said. Sources said the new conditions, details of which were not available, could be on account of differences between top Maoist leaders of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.
However, chief secretary, Bijay Patnaik said, "We still don't know when he will be released." Home secretary U.N.Behera expressed hope that Krishna would be released soon as the rebels had promised to set both the officials free within 48 hours.Amid the latest demands, the junior engineer reached Chitrakonda on Wednesday afternoon following his release. But the uncertainty over Krishna continued. Majhi said the Maoists had released him with the assurance that the collector would also be set free soon. "They told me that collector will be released in 48 hours. They treated us well," Majhi added.
On Tuesday, Maoist ideologue Varvara Rao had said the rebels had released both the officials. However, since they were being held in a difficult terrain their actual arrival home was going to take time. Majhi was released around 11 a.m. by the Maoists at Doliamba, a forested area in Malkangiri's cut-off belt from where he reached Jantapai village on a motorcycle with two people. After crossing the reservoir, he was taken to the Chitrakonda government guest house in an official vehicle.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik said, "The mediators on behalf of the Maoists have given a firm commitment on the safe return of Krishna and Majhi within the next 48 hours."
Sources said an ambulance and a government vehicle had been kept ready on the other side Chitrakonda reservoir in anticipation of the collector's release. While the state government has already acceded to the 14 demands placed by the Maoists, the two sides held further talks on Wednesday on how to ensure that both sides kept their commitment.
On the other hand, in a significant development, the Orissa High Court on Wednesday granted bail to top Maoist leader Ganti Prasad. He was among the five Maoist leaders whose release was demanded by the abductors.

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