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Mediators drive a hard bargain

india Updated: Feb 22, 2011 01:37 IST
HT Correspondent

Orissa could be forced to free several alleged rebel sympathisers along with some top leaders from jail to secure the release of Malkangiri district collector R Vineel Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi from Maoist captivity.

The Maoist-nominated mediators on Monday drove a hard bargain with the state government officials on the second day of negotiations.

Social activist Dandapani Mohanty, whose role as a mediator was reluctantly accepted by the government, came up with a 14-point demand of the rebels, one of them being: release of nearly 700 persons jailed on charges of being Maoists.

Besides, the Maoists also want their leaders Ganti Prasadam, Srinivasulu Ramulu, Sobha, Ashutosh and Padma freed.

Sources said the government would focus on the case of Prasadam and Ramulu, whom the Maoists want to be involved in the negotiations.

Prasadam, who was in Ongole jail in Andhra Pradesh, was brought to a court in Koraput in Orissa on Sunday and remanded to 14-day judicial custody. His bail application, along with those of Ramulu and Padma, were moved on Monday in lower courts as well as Orissa high court. The high court has scheduled the hearing for Wednesday.

After talks with the mediators, Orissa home secretary UN Behera said eight of the 14 issues discussed had been resolved.

The resolved issues pertained to the Polavaram project, enlisting two castes as scheduled castes, scrapping of MoUs with multinational companies and release of two women Maoists from jails in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Behera hoped the other six issues would be resolved by Tuesday. However, the issues would be more complex and relate to freeing the Maoist leaders and sympathisers.

Meanwhile, Krishna and Majhi spent their sixth day in captivity.