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Hostage crisis: Cops may be freed tomorrow

Patna: In the latest turn of events to the hostage crisis that is played out in Bihar, the Naxals have claimed that the three hostages – Rupesh Kumar Sinha, Mohammad Ehsaan and Abhay Yadav who are still in Maoist custody after being kidnapped last Sunday – will be freed tomorrow. However, there has been no official confirmation on the release of the cops yet.

The turn of events have come after Maoist leader Avinash said that their central committee has rejected the government’s talk offer. His comments came hours after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar convened an all-party meeting on Saturday to discuss the crisis.

Under intense pressure to end the week-long hostage crisis in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday invited Maoists holding three policemen captive for talks even offering them safe passage after securing an all party consensus.

A day after the bullet-riddled body of Lucas Tete, one of the four abducted policemen, was found, Kumar said the all party meeting convened by him also appealed to the Maoists to release unharmed the three remaining hostages who the rebels said were safe.

The government’s offer for talks after a Maoist spokesman called for an immediate dialogue came after the Bihar police arrested nine naxalites including two who were reported to be involved in the kidnapping incident in Lakhisarai district on Sunday.

The arrest of the rebels came when combing operations were expanded to fresh areas in Munger district. “I am personally ready for holding talks with the Maoists. We guarantee providing full security and safe passage to Maoist representatives irrespective of the outcome.No police action will be taken, ” Kumar told reporters after an all party meeting here.

The Maoists are demanding that eight of their arrested cadres be freed in exchange for the release of the hostages. Kumar said he had come across media reports that a person called Avinash claiming to be a spokesman of the Maoists had asked for talks.

“But can the talks take place over phone? It is impossible to know their grievances unless they come forward for negotiations,” Kumar said. He said representatives from political parties would also be present during the talks.

Self-proclaimed Maoist spokesman Avinash today rang up media offices and said the three abducted policemen were safe and demanded the Bihar government immediately halt operations and call for talks.

Avinash said the rebels would provide an audio CD with the voices of the three policemen. However, he said time was running out and the state government should immediately hold talks for the release of the three, he said.

“We want the state government should halt the operations and hurry to hold talks for securing the safe release of the three hostages,” he said.

In Jamui district, police sources said that two Naxalites including Pinki Yadav were apprehended in Jamui town this morning when they were speaking to their colleagues from a telephone booth. They were believed to be involved in the abduction of the policemen.

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