With the 48-hour Maoists' deadline set to end on Tuesday evening, a top police source said the Chhattisgarh government was holding 'secret' talks with the rebels for the safe release of four abducted policemen.
"The government has established a back-door contact with a section of the military unit of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). It is holding secret talks with the rebels," a top source here at police headquarters told IANS.
"We are looking into their (Maoists) demands. We have conveyed our intention that deadline should be extended comprehensively, any demand can't be met with a gun-loaded trigger put on our abducted cops' heads," the source added.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is tightlipped over the talk issue and has even refused to have engaged in any talks with the guerrillas.
Maoists on Sep 19 abducted seven policemen from Bhopalpatnam area of Bijapur, over 500 km from Raipur, close to the Andhra Pradesh border.
Three policemen were killed a day later while assistant sub-inspector Sukhram Bhagat, constables B. Toppo, Narendra Bhosle and Subhash Ratre were held captive to bargain with the authorities.
After a week of uncertainty over the fate of the abducted 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 mainly demanded immediate halt of an anti-Maoist drive Green Hunt, release of a few people of four villages of Bijapur district arrested on charges of unlawful activities, judicial probe into alleged fake encounters and initiating peace talks," state Director General of Police (DGP) Vishwa Ranjan told IANS.