Mediators leave for talks with Maoists for Collector''s release

Posted By: Pti
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Bhubaneswar, Feb 24 (PTI) Intensifying efforts for therelease of the abducted Malkangiri Collector R V Krishna, twoMaoist-chosen mediators today left for Koraput for talks withthe rebels even as Orissa Government said it is hopeful ofsome positive developments soon.

Mediators Prof G Hargopal and Dandapani Mohanty weregoing by helicopter to the southern district, a Maoiststronghold adjoining Malkangiri, Panchayati Raj Secretary, S NTripathy told reporters.

Official sources said the two mediators could proceedto Malkangiri from Koraput, if necessary, to be present asdemanded by the Naxals.

Before their departure, the mediators had a marathondiscussion with state government officials including Tripathyand Home Secretary U N Behera and explored various optionsfor safe return of the 30-year-old IAS officer, who wasabducted on February 16 along with junior engineer PabitraMajhi.

Though Majhi was set free yesterday, the abductors putforward new demands for the release of the 2005 batch IASofficer. They have demanded immediate release of five seniorMaoist leaders apart from Ganti Prasadam, who has been grantedbail by Orissa High Court.

Prasadam was taken to Koraput this morning for hisrelease on bail by the sub-divisional judicial magistratethere, but the process is likely to take more time.

"We are making all efforts ... Talks were held withthe three interlocutors to secure safe and early release ofthe collector from the Maoists," Chief Secretary B K Patnaiktold reporters. The mediators had asked the Naxals to releaseKrishna this evening but the Maoists put forward freshconditions.

Voicing optimism about Krishna''s release, the HomeSecretary said, "We hope the appeal made by the mediators musthave reached the abductors by now. We are hopeful of somepositive development soon."Meanwhile, social activist Swami Agnivesh, whoseparticipation in the process was sought by the Maoists, saidthat it would not not be possible for him to reach Malkangiriwithin a short time.

He appealed to the abductors to set free thecollector without further delay. .

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