Bhubaneswar, Feb 17 (IANS) Giving a 48-hour ultimatum, Maoists have demanded a halt on combing operations to release an Orissa district collector, police said Thursday, a day after the abduction. This is the first time the rebels have taken an IAS officer hostage in the state.
Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer R. Veenel Krishna, the district collector of Malkangiri, was kidnapped from the Chitrakonda area along with junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi by around six rebels Wednesday evening, police said.
Two other officials were also intercepted by the Maoists, but they were released subsequently. These officials carried a note from the rebels, setting conditions for Krishna’s release and the collector himself was made to write the note, said police.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has appealed for his release.
“We are monitoring the situation. I appeal for the release of the young collector of Malkangiri who is known for his hard work for the poor and for tribals,” he told reporters.
Krishna had been posted in Malkangiri for 16 months.
According to the note from the Maoists, the rebels have given a 48-hour ultimatum and set conditions, including halting of anti-Maoist operations in the area and the release of all Maoists arrested in the past, officials said.
“We are examining their conditions. They are asking for a halt on combing operations and the release of Maoists. We are collecting information from all sources for further course of action,” chief secretary B.K. Patnaik told reporters.
The abduction has cast its shadow in the state assembly with opposition members Thursday forcing an adjournment during question hour.
“People don’t feel the state government has its presence in the district. The collector is not safe. It is a sensitive matter and we are not yet able to know what steps the government has taken,” Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said.
Police and local authorities began search operations after the officials did not return to the district headquarters late Wednesday evening from the area where the collector had gone to attend public relations camps.
This is the first time the rebels have taken an IAS officer hostage in the state.
Krishna, 30, a native of Chanda Nagar, a suburb of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh joined the IAS in August 2005 after he graduated from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
Maoists are active in more than half of Orissa’s 30 districts. Malkangiri, about 615 km from here, is considered a Maoist stronghold.