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Hostage crisis: Orissa begins talks with mediators

Posted by on February 20, 2011 0 Comment

Bhubaneswar, Feb 20 (IANS) The two mediators, human right activists and academicians G. Haragopal and R. Someswar Rao, began negotiations Sunday with Orissa government officials on the release of a district collector and an engineer abducted by Maoists four days ago.

State Home Secretary U.N. Behera and Panchayati Raj Secretary S.N. Tripathy began the talks in the state guest house with the two mediators who arrived in the state capital in the morning, a senior state official told IANS.

“We are just mediators, there is no question of putting any pressure on the government,” Haragopal, a retired professor from Kakatiya University told reporters hours before the dialogue.

As soon as the duo reached the Bhubaneswar airport, they were taken to the state guest house. They were accompanied by some of their relatives.

R. Vineel Krishna, the district collector of Malkangiri, was abducted along with junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi by Maoists Wednesday evening. This is the first time an Indian Administrative Service official has been kidnapped in the state.

Haragopal, who had gone to Hyderabad from New Delhi Saturday, held talks with the other mediator, Someshwar Rao, a retired professor of economics, and Maoist sympathiser and revolutionary writer Varavara Rao.

The trio met at Hyderabad Central University to discuss modalities for the mediation to seek the safe release of abducted district collector Krishna, who hails from Andhra Pradesh.

The rebels, who had initially set a two-day deadline to meet their demands, extended it by another 48 hours after it lapsed Friday evening. The extension was announced by a Maoist leader, identifying himself as Bhaskar, secretary of the Andhra-Orissa Border State Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist, late Friday night.

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