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Hostage crisis: Mediators, Orissa govt officials begin talks

Bhubaneswar: Setting the tone for talks with Orissa government for release of abducted Malkangiri District Collector and an engineer, the two Maoist-handpicked mediators on Sunday said they were carrying some proposals from the Naxals and were keen to resolve the five-day crisis.

“We have brought some proposals from the Maoist leaders which will be placed before the Orissa government during our talks,” Prof Hargopal and Prof Someswar Rao, both from Andhra Pradesh, told reporters soon after their arrival at Biju Patnaik Airport here.

Rao said, “We will like to resolve the hostage crisis.”

Talks between interlocutors and state government for release of Malkangiri district collector RV Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi, slated to be held last night, were postponed as the mediators had failed to reach here.

Maintaining that there was “no pressure” from the Maoists, they said, “First, we have to know the agenda set by the state government as it will ensure smooth talks.”

As Krishna and Majhi spent the fifth day in captivity, all eyes were now set on the much-awaited talks.

While preliminary talks were held with the mediators over phone, preparatory work was done by senior state officials for crucial negotiations to secure safe release of 30-year-old Krishna, a 2005 batch IAS officer, and Majhi who were abducted from Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri district on Wednesday evening.

Besides halt to anti-Naxal joint combing operations, which has already been conceded, the seven-point demands of the Naxals included withdrawal of BSF, release of 700 jailed tribal Naxals and scrapping of Polavaram multi-purpose dam project in Andhra Pradesh.

Though Maoists have sought release of some 700 jailed tribal ultras, their emphasis appeared to be on setting free a couple of “key persons”, including Padma, wife of a top Maoist leader, Gantiprasad, who faces about 100 cases in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, S Srinivasulu, former chief of pro-Maoist Revolutionary Writers Association in Andhra Pradesh and senior member of CPI (Maoist).

Orissa government yesterday examined the charges against certain key Naxals whose release is expected to facilitate the safe return of the two abducted officials.

The abduction of the two officials has drawn widespread condemnation with people from all walks of life staging peace rallies in different parts of the state seeking their safe release.

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