Collector''s driver on indefinite hunger strike

Malkangiri (Orissa), Feb 20 (PTI) Ever since theabduction of Malkangiri District Collector R V Krishna byMaoists, his driver has been on an indefinite hunger strike onthe banks of a river demanding the release of his boss.

Shankar Rao, the government driver of Krishna, haddriven the jeep bearing the Collector and had been to Badapadaunder Maoist-stronghold Chitrokonda block to attend a camp forlocal development, when the officer was kidnapped.

Shankar was sitting on dharna on the banks of RiverGurupriya near Janbai ghat since Wednesday waiting for theCollector to return and all their efforts to convince himto break the fast yielded little response, officials said.

"He has been sitting on dharna without taking foodsince Wednesday. We forced him to take some food today andasked him to shift his dharna to the Tahasil office atChitrakonda instead of doing so under the open sky in a remotearea but he was not prepared to budge," local Tehsildar DGopal Krishna said.

Shankar''s family members, including his wife, childrenand parents, had also asked him to break the fast or shift tothe Tehsil office at Chitrakonda to sit on fast but nothinghappened, they said.

"I will not move out of this place come what may,"Shankar, loyal to the Collector, said, adding, "If Collectorsir can pass through the agony meted out to him by the Maoistswhy can''t I?".

However, the jeep was brought to the Tehsil office atChitrakonda today suspecting that the Maoists could target thevehicle, the tehsildar said.

A similar hunger strike was staged by additional BDOof Kalimela at his office seeking release of the Collector buthe was shifted to hospital as his condition deterioratedtoday, officials said.

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