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Maoists demand halt to ops in Orissa-Andhra border

(image) Bhubaneswar: Maoists on Sunday demanded complete halt to joint anti-Naxal operations in entire Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border region by security forces of the two states as their handpicked mediators pressed for "more time" for the release of Malkangiri District Collector and an engineer. "Though Orissa government has stopped combing across the state, joint operation by security forces of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh must be halted," a Maoist leader said in a letter received by Malkangiri district administration.

On the deadline for fulfillment of their demands for release of 30-year-old Malkangiri Collector R V Krishna, a 2005 IAS officer and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi, the letter said it was for Orissa government to decide when it would meet the demands.

Expressing happiness over the state government joining the process of talks to resolve crisis following abduction of Krishna and Majhi on Wednesday, the letter said the hostages were safe and secure.

Meanwhile, the bail plea of Maoist leader Ganti Prasadam, whose release among others has been demanded by Naxals to free the abducted collector, was rejected after he was brought from Andhra Aradesh and produced before a magistrate here on Sunday.

Prasadam was sent to Koraput jail after Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate rejected his bail application, a day after ordering his production before the court, lawyer of the Maoist leader Nihar Ranjan Patnaik said.

Prasadam, convener of Martyrs Friends and Relatives Committee, arrested in November by Koraput police, had been taken to Ongole in connection with a case there and was brought from Ongole Prison in Andhra Pradesh`s Prakasam district, where he was lodged since February 7.

He was handed over to police last evening as Orissa Police had secured a Prisoners Transfer (PT) warrant against him from Koraput SDJM, officials said.

"Following the court directive (PT warrant), we handed over Prasadam to police for production before the Koraput court," according to Ongole Prison Superintendent V Phaniraju.

In another development, Naxal sympathiser Varavara Rao said that the Maoists want complete dropping of cases against certain key rebels like Prasadam and S Srinivasulu and not just their release from jails on bail.

He said about 700 tribals, now lodged in jails on charges of being Maoists, should also be freed.

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