Maoists snap road links in Malkangiri

Bhubaneswar: A day after the State Government halted anti-Naxal operations to facilitate early release of abducted Malkangiri Collector, R V Krishna and an engineer, the ultras on Friday snapped the main road link with the district by felling trees.

The main road connecting Malkangiri with other parts of the state was blocked by felling a large number of trees in mountainous and forested Gobindpalli Ghati area.

Besides felling trees, the ultras put boulders and dug up the road linking Malkangiri and Jeypore in Koraput, a lifeline connecting the tribal dominated district with the rest of Orissa.

The Maoist action came even after the Orissa Government conceded one of their two demands by stopping combing operations across the state to secure safe release of Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi, who were abducted by the ultras on Wednesday evening.

With the two-day deadline set by the Maoists for meeting their demands – halt to anti-Maoist operations and release of tribal compatriots – fast approaching, the state government is now waiting for a response from the rebels.

30-year-old Krishna, a 2005 batch IAS officer, and Majhi were kidnapped by a some 50 Maoists during a visit to remote Chitrakonda area, a Maoist stronghold about 85 km from here, to attend a camp for local development, police said.

As authorities launched `back channel` efforts to secure the release of the captives, the state government has already contacted Maoist sympathiser Varavara Rao and social activist Swami Agnivesh for help.

Both Varavara Rao and Swami Agnivesh have expressed their willingness to extend help and mediate. Rao has said the state government should take steps for creation of proper atmosphere for holding talks.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who has appealed for early release of the district collector and the junior engineer, has said the situation is being closely monitored.

While various options for safe and early release of the two hostages were being examined, the government was hopeful of getting a message from the rebels for negotiations on the issue, official sources said.

Abduction of the two drew widespread condemnation as thousands of people took out processions in several parts of Orissa and appealed for the release of the two captives yesterday.