Chhattisgarh cops' release likely as deadline reportedly extended
The chances of the safe release of four abducted Chhattisgarh policemen have brightened as the Chhattisgarh government held "secret talks" with the Maoists and there were reports that the rebels had extended the 48-hour deadline ending Tuesday evening.india Updated: Sep 28, 2010 23:30 IST
The chances of the safe release of four abducted Chhattisgarh policemen have brightened as the Chhattisgarh government held "secret talks" with the Maoists and there were reports that the rebels had extended the 48-hour deadline ending Tuesday evening.
"The government has established a backdoor contact with a section of the military unit of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). It is holding secret talks with the rebels," a reliable source told IANS.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is tightlipped over the "secret talks".
Officials refused to either confirm or deny the reports that the rebels had extended the deadline by another 24 hours (to Wednesday evening). Top official sources, however said that the policemen's release is "expected anytime now unless a last minute change of mind by ultras".
As the deadline ended, the top police officers were busy holding an emergency meeting in Raipur. Chief Minister Raman Singh urged the Maoists to release the abducted policemen on humanitarian grounds.
The Maoists abducted seven policemen from Bhopalpatnam in Bijapur, over 500 km from Raipur, close to the Andhra Pradesh border On Sep 19.
Three policemen were killed a day later. Assistant sub-inspector Sukhram Bhagat and constables B. Toppo, Narendra Bhosle and Subhash Ratre are still held captive.
"The jungle search for rescuing them has been further stepped up. We are doing the best to track down the guerrillas," Superintendent of Police (Bijapur) R.N. Das said.
He said police are using helicopters to scan the forests where the rebels are believed to be holding the policemen.
After a week of uncertainty over the fate of the cops, Maoists Sunday evening set a 48-hour deadline for releasing them. The rebels dropped a few handwritten leaflets in Bijapur district's interiors stating their demands.
"The Maoists have demanded an end to the anti-Maoist drive Green Hunt, release of a few villagers of Bijapur arrested on charges of unlawful activities, judicial probe into alleged fake encounters and initiating peace talks," Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan told IANS.
The Chhattisgarh government claims to be in touch with Andhra Pradesh to achieve a breakthrough in the hostage crisis. Intelligence inputs say the rebels were shuttling the abducted policemen from one densely forested location to another between Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, family members of the policemen - camping in Bijapur town here - have called upon the Maoists to free them, promising that all of them will quit the police force.