New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), of which rights activist Binayak Sen is the vice president, Thursday asked the Maoists to immediately release the district collector they have abducted in Orissa.
The guerrillas kidnapped Malkangiri District Collector R. Veenel Krishna and a junior engineer early Wednesday when he was going to inspect development projects, apparently without any guards, after attending a meeting in Badapada village.
“PUCL expresses concern over the abduction and calls upon the Maoists to immediately and unconditionally release the abducted officer and others in their custody. We are against hostage taking and using hostages as bargaining point for settling demands,” the statement said.
A worried Orissa government halted anti-Maoist operations Thursday, following one of the rebel demands.
The Maoists have also called for the release of all their jailed colleagues, giving a 48-hour ultimatum to the administration.
“PUCL once again reiterates that the issue of Maoism is a political issue, which has to be addressed politically. Militarisation and armed suppression has never proved effective in the past and will not do so in the future. These issues need to be addressed through dialogue,” the statement said.
“However, the fact remains that peaceful rallies, campaigns, protests and demonstrations by people fall on deaf ears and governments don’t respond. In Orissa, there have been continuous reports of lawlessness and repressive action by the state security agencies, resulting in large-scale arrests and incarceration of innocent ordinary people,” it added.
Calling upon the Orissa government, the centre and other states where the “conflict with Maoists exists” to end Operation Green Hunt in the “name of curbing Maoists”, PUCL said that increased militarisation has created a climate of fear and alienation among the local people.
Binayak Sen is at present lodged in a jail in Chhattisgarh state capital Raipur after he was Dec 24 sentenced by a trial court there for sedition and for his links with Maoists.