Accusing the state government of dilly dallying in replying to their demands for the safe release of the Sukma collector, Maoists on Friday said they have not taken any decision on extending the deadline.
In an e-mail statement issued on Friday the secretary of South Bastar Divisional Committee (CPI-Maoists) Vijay Madkam said they are yet to get any 'concrete reply' from the government over their demands. "Only after knowing the reaction of the state government the decision on the deadline would be communicated through our mediators", said the statement.
However the state government has refuted the accusation of the rebels. "We are undertaking every possible measure with seriousness and through talks exploring all feasible steps to end the hostage crisis", the official spokesperson told Hindustan Times. "It appears that the Maoists were forced to issue such statement following the public criticism they are facing now", he added.
In the mean time the mediators have resumed negotiations on Friday at the state guest house to resolve the six-day-old crisis. Alex Paul Menon (32), a 2006-batch IAS officer, was abducted on Saturday last from Majhipara village in Sukma. The first round of talks was cited as constructive but remained inconclusive on Thursday.
The Maoists interlocutors stated their priority will be to ensure early and safe release of the collector. Chief minister Raman Singh said: "I am optimistic and look forward to a positive solution".
Meanwhile, Maoists holding Chhattisgarh's Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon hostage have asked for 17 of their jailed associates to be released, sources said after the mediators appointed by the government and the guerrillas met in Raipur.
The second round of talks between the two mediators named by Maoists and two former bureaucrats appointed by the Chhattisgarh government began at 9am on Friday. The first round of talks was held on Thursday.
The Chhattisgarh government has appointed Nirmala Buch, a former Madhya Pradesh chief secretary, and SK Mishra, a former state chief secretary, while the Maoists have named Hyderabad-based Professor G Hargopal and former IAS officer BD Sharma.
(With agency inputs)