Buckling under pressure, the Orissa government on Thursday sent two of the Maoist nominated mediators G Hargopal and Dandapani Mohanty to Koraput from Bhubaneswar in a state hired helicopter to negotiate with the Maoists for Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna’s release.
It's quite likely that Krishna may remain in Maoist captivity for another day as the mediators will reach Malkangiri only on Friday to hold negitiation with the rebels. Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi were abducted from Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri district, more than 700 km southwest of Bhubaneswar, on February 16.
Following three-days hectic discussions, the mediators had achieved a breakthrough to the week-long hostage crisis on
Tuesday after the state government gave in all the 14 demands by them and agreed to withdraw cases against five Maoist leaders. The same day, the mediators announced that Krishna and Majhi would be freed within 48 hours.
While the Maoists released Majhi on Wednesday morning – they set some more demands for the release of the collector. One of the demands was that the mediators come down to Malkangiri to facilitate Krishna’s early release.
Dandapani Mohanty said earlier in the day that it was not acceptable as the mediators were old and unwell to travel long distance and appealed along with other two mediators to the Maoists to release Krishna by Thursday evening.
The mediators, along with jailed Maoist leader Ganti Prasadam and Andhra Pradesh based Maoist ideologue Vara Vara Rao, disapproved Maoists’ latest demands and appealed them to release Krishna by Thursday evening.
Social activist Swami Agnivesh also appealed to the Maoists to release Malkangir collector R Vineel Krishna without any further delay.
The government apparently took the decision to send the mediators to Malkangiri following the fresh discussion on Maoists’ new demands in the morning on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Prasadam, whose release Maoists seek in exchange of Krishna and Majhi, was shifted to Koraput jail from a jail in Bhubaneswar late on Wednesday night. The mediators will meet Prasadam at Koraput jail before proceeding to Malkangiri on Friday.
The Orissa high court granted bail to jailed Maoist ideologue Ganti Pradam on Wednesday, but he reportedly prefers to stay in the jail till the Orissa government releases about 600 comrades.