The District Collector of Orissa's Maoist-hit Malkangiri has been kidnapped by Maoists, who are demanding withdrawal of Central forces, end to joint operation by security forces and release of all people detained during anti-Maoist operations.
Malkangiri collector R V Krishna along with two junior engineers and a project officer went missing on Wednesday evening when he was on an inspection tour of villages as part of the government's mass contact programme.
Allegedly, 50 Maoists were involved in the abduction of the officers.
There was no trace of the 30-year-old IAS officer after he went from the camp held at Badapada bordering Andhra Pradesh to see a culvert on a road nearby on a motorcycle, Chitrakonda Tehsildar D Gopal Krishnan said.
While the collector and a junior engineer remained untraced, two others reached Badapada late Wednesday night with a letter, written by suspected Naxals, and handed it over to senior officials, he said.
Maoists have set a 48-hour deadline for the government to fulfill their demands.
In Delhi, Home Secretary G K Pillai said, "He (Krishna) was abducted by the Maoists and they sent the engineer back with a chit asking for... their so called demands. The state government and other officers are working on this".
Strongly condemning the abduction, Pillai said, "I don't think there is any need for any operation to release him. I am sure that the local support that he has and the state government will be able to negotiate and get his release".
"I think it will take some time because the area is quite cut-off but back channel efforts are underway and I think it will take a few days but we are quite confident of getting him back," he said.
Singh said the collector is suspected to have been kept hostage by suspected ultras, but their exact position is being ascertained.
The letter demanded withdrawal of Central forces from the district, halt to anti-Naxal operations and release of all red rebels lodged in jails, the SP said.
"We are examining the letter and reviewing the situation. Efforts are on to trace him," he said.