Negotiation with mediators postponed, govt examining cases

Bhubaneswar, Feb 19 (PTI) Talks between Maoist-chosenmediators and Orissa government for the release of abductedMalkangiri district collector and an engineer was postponedtill tomorrow even as the state administration today examinedthe charges against certain key Naxalites whose freedom fromjail would facilitate the safe return of the hostage duo.

As collector R Vineel Krishna and junior engineer PabitraMajhi spent the fourth day in captivity, the much-awaitedmeeting between Orissa government and two mediators, which wasslated for tonight, was deferred as the latter failed to reachhere today.

"We could not go to Bhubaneswar today. We will reachthere tomorrow morning," Prof Hargopal, one of the Hyderabad-based mediators, told PTI over phone, while another mediator -Prof Someswar Rao was said to be unwell.

While preliminary talks were held with the mediators overphone, preparatory work was being done by senior stateofficials ahead of the crucial negotiations for securing thesafe release of Krishna and Majhi who were abducted fromChitrakonda area of Malkangiri district on Wednesday evening.

With Maoists demanding the release of some of theirjailed comrades, Orissa government today examined the chargesagainst certain key Naxals whose release is expected tofacilitate the safe return of the two abducted officials.

The move came after it received a list of names ofMaoists lodged in jails of Orissa on sedition charges.

During preliminary telephonic talks, Prof Hargopalhad suggested to state Home Secretary U N Behera that it wouldbe easy to negotiate with the abductors if some key personslike Gantiprasad, who faces about 100 cases in Orissa andAndhra Pradesh, were released.

Besides, Maoists, through the district administrationof Malkangiri, had given some names for their release claimingthat they had no direct involvement in crimes in Orissa.

S Srinivasulu, former chief of pro-MaoistRevolutionary Writers Association in Andhra Pradesh and seniormember of CPI (Maoist), was one man whose release wasdemanded. Maoists also sought the release of Padma, wife of atop Maoist leader.

While considering the demands made by Maoists throughletters and mediators, the state government today held a high-level meeting attended by Chief Secretary, B K Patnaik, HomeSecretary Behera and anti-Maoist operation officers.

Asked whether the government has agreed to release somerebels, Chief secretary B K Patnaik said "no decision has beentaken on release of any Maoists. The issue may come up onlyduring formal negotiations." .

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