Hostage crisis: Govt meets 8 Maoist demands

Bhubaneswar: Conceding eight of the 14 demands of the Maoists on the second day of talks with the rebel-chosen mediators, state government on Monday said it was confident of securing early release of abducted Malkangiri Collector R V Krishna and a junior engineer.

Home Secretary U N Behera said while eight demands of the Maoists were met, final talks on the remaining six conditions would be held tomorrow.

"I am confident now that both the Collector and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi will be released very soon," he told reporters after two days of talks with Maoist-chosen mediators for release of the two abducted on February 16.

Among the issues resolved during the meeting were recognising Konda Reddy and Nokadora communities as Scheduled Tribe, steps for scrapping Pollavaram multi-purpose dam project in Andhra Pradesh, issue of land pattas to tribals whose land had allegedly been taken away in Malkangiri and Koraput, extension of a canal project in Malkangiri and compensation to families of two persons who died in jail custody due to alleged torture in Koraput, he said.

The government would also take steps for the release of two central committee members of CPI (Maoist) Sila Di and Padma lodged in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh jails, Behera said.

The issue of stoppage of bauxite mining in Mali and Deomali hills in Koraput and Rayagada districts and cancellation of MoUs with multinational companies were also resolved.

Talks with the mediators Prof G Hargopal, Prof Someswar Rao and Dandapani Mohanty have "progressed well," Behera said.

"We have been assured by the mediators that Krishna`s health is fine and there is no cause of concern," he said adding both the hostages are safe and secure.

In a related development, five hardcore Maoists, including Ganti Prasadam, who has about 100 cases against him in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, moved the Orissa High Court for bail after a similar plea was rejected by a lower court.

The Maoists, who have sought their release as one of the conditions for safe return of the two, called a bandh to press their demand but it evoked little response.

As Krishna, a 2005 batch IAS officer, and Majhi spent the sixth day in captivity, the mediators were keen that certain jailed ultras like Ganti Prasadam joined the negotiation process to resolve the hostage crisis.

The release of jailed Maoists was discussed at length, official sources said, adding it was possible that the bail plea of the rebels would not be opposed by the government.