Orissa govt asks Maoists to extend deadline in kidnap case

Bhubaneswar, Feb 18 (PTI) Facing a two-day deadlineset by Maoists to meet their demands, Orissa government todayappealed to the abductors of Malkangiri District Collector R VKrishna to extend the time-frame as it made efforts tonegotiate the release of the IAS officer.

"My appeal to the concerned persons is to extend thedeadline set for this evening and not to harm the abducteddistrict collector and the junior engineer," Chief MinisterNaveen Patnaik said.

Showing willingness for talks for safe return ofKrishna and junior engineer Pabitra majhi, Patnaik said, "Weare in the process of trying to establish contact with personsto discuss and negotiate the release."

Soon after Patnaik''s appeal, Naxal ideologue V V Raosaid he has asked the government to announce by this eveningthat it would release at least seven persons, who have beenjailed in "unreasonable and stray" cases. It would facilitateboth extension of the deadline and release of the hostages, hesaid.

Though the government stopped anti-Maoist operationsacross the state yesterday, one of the demands of the Naxals,it was yet to receive any response or communication from therebels, a top official said.

On the other hand, the rebels cut off Malkangiri fromthe rest of Orissa by felling trees on vast stretches anddigging up the main road connecting the district this morning.

Besides obstructing the road in mountainous andforested Gobindpalli Ghati, the ultras put up a large numberof posters with seven-point demands including stoppage ofanti-Naxal joint operations, withdrawal of BSF, release of 700tribal Naxals and scrapping of Polavaram water sharingproject.

The state Assembly plunged into turmoil over the issuewith opposition Congress and ruling BJD MLAs virtuallyclashing with each other next to the Speaker''s podium. TheCongress accused the government of failing to take the Houseinto confidence as it announced the halt of the combingoperation

30-year-old Krishna, a 2005 batch IAS officer, and Majhiwere abducted by some 50 Maoists during a visit to remoteChitrakonda area for a camp for local development. MORE PTIAAM SKN SC

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