Orissa govt contacts mediators chosen by Naxals

Malkangiri/Bhubaneswar, Feb 18 (PTI) Asking Maoists toextend their two-day deadline, Orissa government today said ithas established contact with two mediators handpicked by theNaxals to negotiate the release of abducted MalkangiriDistrict Collector R V Krishna and a junior engineer.

"They (Maoists) had given three names for negotiation.

We have established contact with Prof Someswar Rao and ProfHargopal (both from Andhra Pradesh). They are willing tomediate in the matter," Chief Secretary B K Patnaik toldreporters in Bhubaneswar after a marathon meeting at the chiefminister''s office here.

The two mediators have accepted the state government''srequest to issue an appeal for extension of two-day deadlinegiven by Naxals who kidnapped Krishna, a 30-year-old IASofficer, and the junior engineer Pabitra Majhi on Wednesday,the Chief Secretary said.

He said the state government has also contacted socialactivist Swami Agnivesh, who indicated that the Naxals wereconsidering extending the time-frame of two days to meet theirseven-point demands including halt to anti-Naxal jointoperations, which has already been conceded, withdrawal ofBSF, release of 700 tribal Naxals and scrapping of Polavaramwater-sharing project with Andhra Pradesh.

Agnivesh said in New Delhi that he was willing to actas a negotiator if Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself talksto him and the state government is willing to release thejailed tribals.

The Chief Secretary said the government would considerthe demands made by the Maoists. "Many demands may come upduring discussions. We are open to discussions," he said.

Asked whether the state government would agree to theMaoist demand for release of seven persons, the chiefsecretary said, "Those will come up during the discussionswith mediators."

The Chief Minister also appealed to the abductors toextend the deadline. "We have also appealed to them (Naxals)not to harm the collector and the junior engineer in theircaptivity," Patnaik said.

Meanwhile, social scientist Hargopal told a TV channelthat the deadline set by the Maoists should be extended whichis the first requirement for negotiations.

Similarly, the state government should adopt apositive approach and look into the demands of the Maoists, hesaid, adding it should not be difficult to release on bailsome persons, including women, and it is in the government''spurview. .

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