Maoists claimed to have killed one of four kidnapped Bihar policemen, Sub-Inspector Abhay Yadav, after their deadline for the release of eight rebels currently in jail expired at 10 a.m. Thursday.
With Yadav, Maoists had kidnapped Sub-Inspector Rupesh Kumar Sinha and two Bihar Military Police men after a gunbattle on Sunday in Kajra hills of Lakshisarai district, about 100 km from here. Seven policemen were killed in the battle.
A self-proclaimed Maoist spokesman, Avinash, told the media Yadav was dead although state police chief Neelmani said there was no evidence of this.
The Maoists had set their first deadline at 3 p.m. Wednesday but extended it to Thursday. Avinash threatened the other three would also be killed if the government failed to respond before the expiry of the third deadline — 10 a.m. Friday.
As reports of the killing came in, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar offered safe passage to any Maoist delegation that wanted to hold talks. “No police action will be taken against them if talks take place in the state.”
On the Maoists’ demand, he said: “There are rules and sections of law only the judiciary can look into. Whatever action is taken, it has to be as per law.”
He also said the present development would not change his government’s stand on how to tackle the insurgency. “Left-wing politics is part of our society and so are our policemen who have been held hostage.”
Hours before Thursday’s deadline ended, Union home secretary G.K. Pillai said the Centre was “hopeful there would be an outcome to the negotiations with Maoists”. Kumar said, “But whom should we talk to?”
IG (operations) K.S. Dwivedi, who is camping at Lakhisarai, said: “We have specific information on where the policemen are being held. Locals are cooperating with us.” Neelmani said: “We have intensified search operations.”