Malkangiri Collector kidnapping: Talks on with Maoists

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 18 (ANI): After halting anti-Maoist operations, Orissa Government began back channel discussions with the rebels as the 48-hour deadline given by them for the release of Malkangiri District Collector R Vineel Krishna, neared.

State Home Secretary UN Behera said that he had spoken to social activist Swami Agnivesh and some backdoor dialogue was on for the release of the District Collector and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi. .

He said Maoists are being given open invitation for dialogue with the Government either at Malkangiri or at Home Department in the Orissa Secretariat at Bhubaneswar.

Meanwhile, Swami Agnivesh said: "The Home Secretary assured me that the state government will not conduct combing operations until the District Collector is released."

"I have appealed to the Maoists not to harm the Collector," Agnivesh said.

According to reports, the Government agencies has established contact with Akkaraja Haragopal alias Ramakrishna a senior leader who is a member of the Maoist central Committee to negotiate the safe release of the two hostages.

One of their demands is the safe releasof Ramakrishna's wife Padma, who was arrested in November last in Koraput. Padma was involved in organising the police barracks raid in February 2008.

Earlier, Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urged Maoists to release abducted Malkangiri District Collector.

"I appeal for early release of the young and energetic officer who is known for his hard work among the poor and tribals," Patnaik told reporters.

The Government is evaluating all options and monitoring the situation closely, Patnaik said, adding efforts were on to secure early release of the officer.

Krishna was kidnapped by Maoists on Thursday when he was returning after an interaction programme in Gumma block of tribal-dominated Malkangiri district.

Maoists have issued a four-page letter in Telugu on the abduction outlining seven demands, including ending Operation Greenhunt and release of arrested Maoists.

They also said the Collector, Vineel Krishna, has been part of the 'repressive regime' in Orissa and is therefore not above board despite claims that he was working for the poor.

The letter, faxed to some media houses in Orissa, is the first confirmation that the abduction has been carried out by the Maoists

The incident happened just two days before Home Minister P Chidambaram's scheduled video-conference with the Collectors of 60 Maoist-hit districts.

This is the first time that the Maoists have kidnapped an IAS officer.

Anxiously waiting for the District Collector's release in Malkangiri are his wife and a one -and- a -half year- old -son. Junior Engineer Pabitra Majhi's mother says Maoists, who claim to be working for the welfare of tribals, should release her son, who is a tribal. (ANI)

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