Maoists set new conditions for release of Malkangiri Collector

Bhubaneswar, Feb 24 (ANI): Maoist rebels have put forward new conditions for the release of Malkangiri District Collector R Vineel Krishna, who was abducted by the Maoists on February 16.

After extensive negotiations between the government and the captors, Krishna was meant to be released on Tuesday night along with junior engineer, Pabitra Majhi, who too had been kidnapped from Malkangiri on February 16.

However, the Maoists now say they will hold on to Krishna till they get custody of five of their leaders who are currently in jail.

The new demands were conveyed in a letter sent through Pabitra Majhi, who returned home on Wednesday evening after being released by the Maoists near the Ambadoli village of Chitrakonda District.

Three mediators appointed to interface with the Maoists had earlier been told that Krishna would also be released on Wednesday. But in the letter, the Maoists said they wanted their leaders to be handed over to them in Malkangiri.

Among those leaders is Ganti Prasad, who was arrested in November and charged with sedition. Prasad's release was at the top of the Maoists' agenda.

The Maoists also want Padma, wife of a top rebel leader, to be released. These demands come in addition to other demands that had earlier been put before the Orissa government.

Meanwhile, the three-member mediators, headed by Professor G Haragopal, said the new demands would complicate matters.

"We as mediators are surprised. We did not expect additional demand would come up," he said.

"We feel at this stage these additional conditions would complicate the matter. As mediators, we are appealing to the Maoist party to release the district collector by 6 p.m," he added.

He said their appeal was being aired in English and Telugu as Maoists listen to radio regularly.

"This appeal may have to be taken by the party very seriously because we have promised Orissa government and you (Naxals) had earlier said that nobody need to come to the spot," Hargopal added. (ANI)

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