Malkangiri Collector abduction: Talks between mediators, govt. to continue today

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Bhubaneswar, Feb. 21 (ANI): Talks between Orissa Government and mediators, Professors Hargopal and R Someswar Rao to release Malkangiri District Collector R V Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi from the Maoists, will continue today.

The negotiations began here on Sunday.

A third mediator, social activist and trade union leader Dandapani Mohanty, has also been roped-in.

Orissa Home Secretary UN Behera and Information and Public Relations Secretary Surendra Nath Tripathy are representing the state government in the talks.

Behera said that one round of discussion has been held in a very congenial atmosphere.

"The State Government will not carryout combing operation till the process of talks is not over and similarly Maoists will not take any action that could hamper the talks," he added.

Earlier, the mediators have said that more time was needed to secure the release of Krishna and 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 would 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.

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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