Mediators seek more time for abducted collector's release

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 20 (ANI): The two mediators, human right activists and academicians G. Hargopal and R. Someswar Rao have said that more time was needed to secure the release of abducted Malkangiri district collector R V Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi.

"We are working out modalities on how to end the hostage crisis and facilitate the release of Krishna and Majhi..... It may take more time," Hargopal told reporters.

Earlier, Hargopal said that they will not put any pressure either on the Maoists or the State Government.

"We have to still meet the government and then you give us some time, definitely we'll talk to you tomorrow," he added.

"We are not under any pressure; we are the mediators of both the government and the Maoists. We will see both the sides and then we will see how the problem can be resolved," said Someswara Rao.

The Maoists want two of their jailed leaders - Ghanti Prasadam and Sriramulu Srinivas - to represent the party in the negotiation process.

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.

After halting anti-Maoist operations since Thursday - one of the conditions the rebels had laid down for the release of the officials - the Orissa government is now considering their other demands and looking forward to see if the rebels come with any concrete proposal.

The Orissa Government had earlier informed that the abducted duo were safe and in good health.

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)

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