As Malkangiri district collector R Vineel Krishna and junior engineer Pradip Majhi spent their fourth day in Maoist captivity, Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik started weighing options, including abiding by some demands of the rebels.
A source said Patnaik met senior officials on Saturday, starting the process of scrutinising the offences of the people the rebels want freed from jails.
Officials declined to comment on this even as bail petitions of 13 people with alleged Maoist links were moved in courts in Koraput and Malkangiri.
The state government, which has stopped all anti-Maoist operations (the rebels' first demand) said Krishna and Majhi were safe, even as it awaited the arrival on Sunday of two Maoist-nominated mediators for negotiations - Hyderabad-based civil rights activist G Hargopal and Sambalpur University's retired professor R Someswar Rao.
It did not react to talk that it wasn't keen on using the help of social activist Swami Agnivesh, who secured the release of five abducted Chhattisgarh policemen a week ago.