Govt gives in, hostages to be released soon
Bhubaneswar: Hopes of an early release of kidnapped Malkangiri district collector R V Krishna and a junior engineer brightened on Tuesday night after the state government caved in to Maoists` remaining six of the 14 demands.
After wrapping up the three-day talks with the state government, the Maoist-chosen mediators said Krishna, the 30-year-old IAS officer, and Pabitra Majhi, who are in captivity for the seventh day, would return within 48 hours.
Home secretary U N Behera said the hostage crisis has been resolved.
"Both the Malkangiri Collector and the junior engineer will be freed and will be back within 48 hours," Prof G Hargopal, one of the three Maoist-chosen interlocutors, told reporters at the conclusion of the talks. Hargopal said the mediators were satisfied at the outcome of the talks.
Behera said it was agreed that cases against five Maoists, including Ganti Prasadam and Padma, wife of top naxal Ramakrishna will be withdrawn after following due process of law.
The government also agreed that there would be no coercive action by security forces as long as the Maoists do not indulge in unlawful activities, he said.
Twelve Maoists including hardcore rebel leader Sriramalu Srinivasalu were today released on bail in one case by a fast track court but will be be behind bars in connection with another case.
Regarding the demand by Maoists for release of naxals like central committee member of CPI (Maoist) Asutosh Sen, Sriramulu Srinivasulu, Gananath Patra and Jiban Bose, the Home secretary said the matter would be examined on their merit.
While eight demands of Maoists had been settled yesterday, remaining six were agreed to during today`s talks, he said, adding now the path is clear for release of Krishna and Majhi, who were abducted from Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri district on February 16.
Regarding the demand for release of tribals, Behera said the state government in the past had already withdrawn petty cases against tribals and same approach would be adopted for those still in jails.
Steps for examining withdrawal of petty cases of tribals now lodged in jails would be started in 15 days and completed within three months, he said.
"We mediators express our satisfaction with the outcome of our mediation. We express appreciation for concern of Maoists for tribals of Orissa. The tribals` release was of utmost concern for them," Prof Hargopal said.
Apart from Prof Hargopal, other interlocutors who participated in the negotiations were Prof Someswar Rao and Dandapani Mohanty while Behera and Panchayati Raj secretary S N Tripathy represented the state government.
"We trust the withdrawal of cases against tribals on priority basis will be taken up in 15 days. We hope that tribals will get released and will be back in their habitats," Prof Hargopal said.