Abducted Collector to be released soon as govt accept demands

Bhubaneswar, Feb 22 (PTI) Hopes of an early release ofkidnapped Malkangiri district collector R V Krishna and ajunior engineer brightened tonight after the Orissa governmentcaved in to Maoists'' remaining six of the 14 demands.

After wrapping up the three-day talks with the stategovernment, the Maoist-chosen mediators said Krishna, the30-year-old IAS officer, and Pabitra Majhi, who are incaptivity for the seventh day, would return within 48 hours.

Home secretary U N Behera said the hostage crisis hasbeen resolved.

"Both the Malkangiri Collector and the junior engineerwill be freed and will be back within 48 hours," Prof GHargopal, one of the three Maoist-chosen interlocutors, toldreporters at the conclusion of the talks. Hargopal said themediators were satisfied at the outcome of the talks.

Behera said it was agreed that cases against fiveMaoists, including Ganti Prasadam and Padma, wife of top naxalRamakrishna will be withdrawn after following due processof law.

The government also agreed that there would be nocoercive action by security forces as long as the Maoists donot indulge in unlawful activities, he said.

Twelve Maoists including hardcore rebel leader SriramaluSrinivasalu were today released on bail in one case by a fasttrack court but will be be behind bars in connectionwith another case.

Regarding the demand by Maoists for release of naxalslike central committee member of CPI (Maoist) Asutosh Sen,Sriramulu Srinivasulu, Gananath Patra and Jiban Bose, the Homesecretary said the matter would be examined on their merit.

While eight demands of Maoists had been settledyesterday, remaining six were agreed to during today''s talks,he said, adding now the path is clear for release of Krishnaand Majhi, who were abducted from Chitrakonda area ofMalkangiri district on February 16.

Regarding the demand for release of tribals, Beherasaid the state government in the past had alreadywithdrawn petty cases against tribals and same approach wouldbe adopted for those still in jails.

Steps for examining withdrawal of petty cases oftribals now lodged in jails would be started in 15 days andcompleted within three months, he said.

"We mediators express our satisfaction with theoutcome of our mediation. We express appreciation for concernof Maoists for tribals of Orissa. The tribals'' release was ofutmost concern for them," Prof Hargopal said.

Apart from Prof Hargopal, other interlocutors whoparticipated in the negotiations were Prof Someswar Rao andDandapani Mohanty while Behera and Panchayati Raj secretary SN Tripathy represented the state government.

"We trust the withdrawal of cases against tribals onpriority basis will be taken up in 15 days. We hope thattribals will get released and will be back in their habitats,"Prof Hargopal said.

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