Bhubaneswar, Feb 23 (IANS) Exactly a week after they were abducted by Maoists, a junior engineer was set free even as Orissa eagerly awaited the arrival of the kidnapped district collector, official sources said. A day earlier the state had agreed to all the rebels’ demands.
Junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi was released from the same Chitrakonda area, about 700 km from this city, from where he had been kidnapped along with Malkangiri District Collector R. Vineel Krishna, sending shockwaves across the country.
“The Maoists have released the junior engineer in the same Chitrakonda area,” a senior police official told IANS. “We don’t have any information so far about the release of the collector,” he said.
The release of the junior engineer came after G. Haragopal, one of the three mediators, said Tuesday night that both the hostages will be released within 48 hours.
The Maoists, in a letter to the government, had listed as many as 14 demands for the safe release of the two hostages.
The demands included halting anti-Maoist operations by security forces, release of all political prisoners, scrapping of accords with multi-national companies for land transfer and projects, and compensation for the families of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody.
The government agreed to all the demands after holding negotiations for three days in state capital Bhubaneswar with the three mediators – Dandapani Mohanty and academicians Haragopal and R. Someswar Rao, all chosen by Maoists.
Thousands of people in Orissa Wednesday anxiously awaited the arrival of Krishna.
People from various walks of life, including women, children and media persons thronged the official residence of the district collector at Malkangiri town to see if the hostages were back.
A large number of people stayed in front of the house for several hours both Tuesday night and Wednesday but officials said the duo have not reached the district headquarter town till Wednesday afternoon.