Collector release Krishna, 9-day Orissa hostage crisis ends

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 24 (PTI) After remaining in captivityfor nine days, Malkangiri Collector R V Krishna was releasedtoday by Maoists, an official said, finally bringing to an endthe tense hostage crisis in Orissa.

Chitrakonda Tahsildar D Gopalakrishna said Krishna wasreleased by Maoists this evening and was on his way to hishome in Malkangiri, which is about 90 km from the spot wherethe official was freed.

The 30-year-old IIT graduate-turned IAS officer wasreleased before a "people''s court" by his abductors in aforested area in Jantapai close to the area where he wasabducted along with junior engineer Pabitra Majhi on February16, eyewitnesses said. 22-year-old Majhi was freed yesterday.

TV footage showed Krishna in a check shirt and a bluepant sitting on a boulder with folded hands appearing to be ingood health listening as an undientified man spoke about theproblems faced by villagers. Malkangiri is about 650 km fromthe state capital.

Krishna, who sported an occasional smile, was also seeneating out his hand from a plate.

Inspector in-charge of Chitrakonda Rajesh Chhatria saidKrishna was released at Jantapai area.

"It is a good end. it is a positive end," said SwamiAgnivesh, a Maoist sympathiser after the end of the hostagecrisis which had a new twist yesterday when Maoists made freshset of demands raising uncertainty whether the rebels willhonour their commitment made on Tuesday to release the twoabducted men within 48 hours.

The fresh demand was an immediate release of five naxalleaders. Orissa government had already accepted all the 14demands made by Naxals.

Prof Hargopal, who was among the Maoist-aoppointedmediators, appealed to Maoists yesterday to release Krishna by6 PM this evening.

Hargopal said the Maoists at no stage ever made anythreat to kill Krishna..

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