Three days after abduction of the Malkangiri district collector and a junior engineer by Maoists, Orissa Government is on Saturday all set to negotiate with two interlocutors for their safe release.
"The governmnet will start discussions shortly on the demands made by the Maoists with the two mediators - Prof Someswar Rao and Prof Hargopal - once they arrive here," Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik said.
Negotiations for the release of the collector, RV Krishna and junior engineer, Pabitra Majhi, preceeded a high level preparatory meeting attended among others by the chief minister here, Chief Secretary, BK Patnaik said.
With Maoists extending the deadline for Orissa Government to meet their demands, the meeting examined the pros and cons of different options available for dealing with the conditions made by the ultras, official sources said.
Modalities to be adopted during the negotiations with the Hyderabad-based interlocutors handpicked by the Maoists were also discussed threadbare.
As Krishna and Majhi are spending their fourth day in captivity, the chief secretary said as per the information available with the government, both the abducted persons were safe and in good health.
While the government was in regular contact with the mediators before their visit here for direct talks, the interlocutors on their part were in touch with the rebels through various channels, sources said.
Orissa assembly today adopted a unanimous resolution appealing for the safe release of the 30-year-old collector and the junior engineer voicing deep concern over their abduction by the red rebels.
The house also shared the agony, anxiety and concern of the families of the abducted officials besides extending support to the state government in its effort to secure safe release of the two men.
The state government as well as the interlocutors have also appealed to the Maoists not to cause any harm to Krishna, a 2005 batch IAS officer, and Majhi, who were abducted during a visit on Wednesday to Chitrakonda area, a naxal stronghold in Malkangiri district.
In a bid to pave the way for negotiations for their release, the state government conceded one of the demands of ultras by halting anti-naxal operations since Thursday.
Another major demand in the seven-point charter is unconditional release of some 700 jailed tribal ultras. The mediators felt that release of a couple of "key persons" would facilitate the process of securing safe return of the kidnapped officials, sources said.
The rebels also want withdrawal of BSF and scrapping of Pollavaram multi-purpose dam project in Andhra Pradesh as it is expected to submerge vast areas in the tribal-dominated Malkangiri district.
"Now everything will depend on the manner the talks proceed," the sources said.