Ranchi, Feb 18: Shaken by the self-immolation threat of the wife of the kidnapped Block Development Officer Prashant Kumar Layek, Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren has decided to agree to the key demand of the Naxals to secure the release of Layek.
Appealing to the Maoists for the safe return of the officer, Soren informed that the legal process to set free some of jailed villagers, who Naxals claimed were innocently arrested has begun.
"Naxals have set some conditions to set free Dalbhumgarh BDO Prasant Kumar Layek. Their chief demand is to release innocent villagers now lodged in Dalbhumgarh jail. All the cases are pending in the court. The legal process to release them has already begun. So, I appeal to them (Maoists) to set free our officer unharmed at the earliest," said Soren.
On Feb 17, the Naxals had demanded Soren' s statement on their conditions for the release BDO, who was arrested on Saturday, Feb 13.
Maoists had demanded an unconditional release of 14 of their men, arrested on false charges.
Jharkhand police admitted that two of the 14 jailed men were innocent and have been falsely implicated.
The move by the chief minister came after Layek's wife , Julie Bharati threatened to immolate herself and her four-year old daughter in front of his residence.
A senior official said that the ongoing search operation have also been put on hold to give the extremists ample time and space to set Layek free.
"We have not stopped the search operation but put it on hold today to allow enough space to the Maoists for the safe release of Layek", East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Ravindra Agarwal said.