Bhubaneswar, Feb 19 (ANI): The two professors (both from Andhra Pradesh), who were handpicked by the Maoists, to negotiate the release of Malkangiri District Collector R V Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi will hold discussions with the Orissa Government here on Saturday on the demands made by the ultras.
"Prof Someswar Rao and Prof Hargopal (both from Andhra Pradesh) will reach Bhubaneswar today ... then we will start discussions on the demands made by the Maoists," said Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in a statement in the state assembly today.
Noting that the Maoists have extended the deadline for fulfillment of their demands, Patnaik said the government has requested the Naxals not to harm the duo.
"The State government has already stopped anti-Naxal combing operations across the state paving the way for negotiations," he added.
Maoists have extended the two-day deadline indefinitely for the Orissa Government to meet their demands in return for the release of Krishna and Majhi.
The ultras extended the deadline on Friday night following an appeal from the state government even as they exploded a landmine on a key road snapping links between Malkangiri district and rest of Orissa.
The Orissa Government today informed that the abducted duo were safe and in good health.
"As per the information available with us, the two abducted persons are safe and in good health" in the captivity of the Maoists," Orissa Chief Secretary B K Patnaik told reporters after a high-level meeting attended by Chief Minister Patnaik, Home Secretary U N Behera and several other political leaders.
"The process for negotiations started yesterday would take off after the arrival here of the two mediators - Prof Hargopal and Prof Someswar Rao. We are waiting for the two to reach Bhubaneswar," he said.
Meanwhile, expressing concern over the abduction of Krishna and Majhi, the state assembly unanimously adopted a resolution today appealing for their safe release.
The two professors, who have been chosen as mediators, earlier insisted that the deadline must be extended before any negotiations could be held.
Social activist Swami Agnivesh has also made an appeal to the Maoists not to cause any bodily harm to the two hostages.
Earlier on Friday, Orissa Government said that it has established contact with two of the three mediators named by the Maoists for negotiations.
"They (Maoists) had given three names for negotiation. We have established contact with Prof Someswar Rao and Prof Hargopal. They are willing to mediate in the matter," said Chief Secretary B K Patnaik.
"The two mediators have accepted the state government's request to issue an appeal for extension of two-day deadline given by Naxals, who kidnapped Krishna and Majhi on Wednesday," he added.
Orissa Government has also contacted Swami Agnivesh in this regard.
Krishna, who was on his way back after attending a health camp in Chitrakonda, has been missing since Thursday evening.
The Maoists had earlier sent a note through a junior engineer accompanying Krishna demanding immediate halt to Operation Green Hunt and release of jailed Maoists. (ANI)