Reds release captive officials

The week-long hostage drama ended with official sources confirming that Maoists released Malkangiri district collector R Vineel Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi late on Tuesday night after the Orissa government conceded to all 14 of rebels’ demands. Eight demands were accepted on Monday and six were agreed to on Tuesday. The officials’ release was confirmed by a senior officer of Andhra Pradesh’s elite Greyhounds. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he said, “The Maoists have set the district collector and junior engineer free.” Krishna and Majhi were expected to reach Malkangiri late on Tuesday or Wednesday morning from the Maoist stronghold somewhere near Balimela reservoir amid a large gathering of administrative officials, well-wishers, local people. There was strong speculation in Malkangiri throughout the day that the captives would reach their homes safe on Tuesday night itself. Krishna and Majhi were kidnapped by the Maoists on February 16 near Jantapi village in Malkangiri. Among their 14 demands were calling for a halt to anti-Maoist operations by security forces, release of all political prisoners, scrapping of accords with MNCs for land transfer and projects, and compensation for the families of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody. At the 8 pm briefing on Tuesday, Orissa home secretary U N Behera and Panchayati raj secretary S N Tripathy, after marathon talks with negotiators, Prof H Haragopal, Prof R Someswara Rao and Dandapani Mohanty, said the Maoists will release Krishna and Majhi within the next 48 hours. The rebels sprang a surprise by setting them free much before ther own deadline. The breakthrough occurred after Ganti Prasadam, a key Maoist, was brought to the Jharpada special jail in Bhubaneswar from Koraput, with whom Haragopal, Rao and Mohanty held two rounds of talks spanning over four hours. Ganti was brought under tight security in a special vehicle and he reached Bhubaneswar early Tuesday morning. “Now our common responsibility is to defuse the situation. The impasse should not be allowed to continue for long,” Ganti said. Indications that the kidnapping drama was nearing end came during the day when the home secretary said, “We are close to the solution.” “We agreed on all 14 issues,” Behera told reporters, adding, “Now that all the issues have been resolved, the mediators have given us firm commitment on the safe return of the collector and junior engineer.” Haragopal said, “We are satisfied with the outcome of our mediation,” adding that the mediators will now working on the modalities for the hostages’ release. The demands which the government conceded on Tuesday included not to use force against the Maoists until they engineer violence, examine charges against members of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) of Narayanpatna, administrative inquiry into the missing of one Sitanna Hikoka of Narayanpatna area, compensation to affected families in Balmela submerged area. In a related development the Malkangiri fast track court gave bail to another Maoist leader Sriramulu Srinivasulu. His release however is not imminent as he has another case — of a landmine blast at Badigeta village under Kalimela police station in 2005 — pending, which would be taken up in a day or two. Medical teams were ready to receive Krishna and Majhi after their release in Malkangiri.

It's great to see a government official enjoy so much popularity with the tribals and others.Great work R.Vineel Krishna !

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