The family of a tribal police officer abducted by Maoists from Orissa's Keonjhar district four days ago as well as social activists on Sunday appealed to the rebels to release him.
"He is an innocent man. He has not committed any crime. I appeal to Maoists to release him immediately," eminent social activist and tribal leader Tulsi Munda told reporters.
Munda, who was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2001, said the family members of the Assistant Sub-Inspector of police Umesh Marandi who was abducted on Wednesday night, were passing through a difficult time.
She also appealed to the rebels to introspect if what they were doing was right.
"I request them to shun violence and initiate dialogue with the government if they want to do anything for the tribals," Munda said.
Ranu Mani Marandi, the wife of Umesh Marandi, told reporters: "My husband has no enemy. He has not done any harm. Please free him. We all are upset."
Activists of the Santhali community also appealed to Maoists to release the officer, a member of their tribe.
The Maoists attacked a police building in the mining town of Daitari, about 150 km from here, and abducted Marandi.
Police have launched combing operations and conducted searches in a large number of places in the district but have not been able to locate the officer.
Local media said the rebels demanded the release of at least 68 tribals in order to free him.
Describing them as innocents, one of the abductors told some local television channels that the tribals were arrested for their alleged links with Maoists.
State inspector general of police Sanjeev Marik said police were ready to give it a serious thought if the rebels came up with genuine demands.
"Their act is condemnable. The police officer they abducted is a tribal. He hails from a poor family and is diabetic." Marik told.