Chidambaram had asked Naveen Patnaik not to give in to Maoists

New Delhi, Feb 26 (PTI) The Centre was not not infavour of Orissa government striking a deal with Maoists forthe release of its two officials in exchange for the freedomsome top Maoists from its jails.

Home Minister P Chidambaram is understood to havespoken to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and urged himnot not to set precedent by striking a deal with the Maoiststhat would pressure on other governments in future in anysimilar situation, sources said.

Patnaik is believed to have agreed with the HomeMinister''s suggestion but later went ahead with hisgovernment''s strategy of releasing Maoist leaders from toensure the safe release of Malkangiri District Collector RVeenil Krishna and Junior Engineer Pabitra Majhi, the sourcessaid.

The abduction of the Orissa government officials wasan operation mounted by Orissa Maoists and their counterpartsfrom neighbouring Andhra Pradesh pitched in with theirdemands.

Then the Orissa Maoists raised the stakes bydemanding release of their comrades from jails which theAndhra Pradesh Maoists resisted saying they should focus onthe problems of tribals.

Otherwise, they would be looked at as working fortheir selfish interests, the Andhra Pradesh Maoists said.

They also noted that the Collector was a popular officialknown for working for the people.

The sources said the Centre''s point of view matteredlittle in these situations because law and order is a statesubject and the state governments have to handle suchsituations.

The Centre could convene a meeting of Chief Ministersand try to evolve a consensus on how to handle such situationsbut some of them could turn around and say how can Centredictate to them, the sources said.

The sources noted that in a similar situation BiharChief Minister Nitish Kumar had handled the issue of abductionof some policemen last year with tact though he appeared softin his statements.PTI

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