Second round of talks for release of collector underway
As the Orissa government today started its second round of discussion with the mediators to facilitate the release of abducted Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi, bail petitions of five Maoist leaders were moved in Koraput and Malkangiri courts. Priya Ranjan Sahureports.india Updated: Feb 21, 2011 17:01 IST
As the Orissa government on Monday started its second round of discussion with the mediators to facilitate the release of abducted Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi, bail petitions of five Maoist leaders were moved in Koraput and Malkangiri courts.
On the other hand, the CPI (Maoist) called for shudown in the state demanding the release of hundreds of “innocent people” who were booked in Maoist cases. The shutdown has disrupted road and rail traffic in several places of south Orissa.
Andhra Orissa Border Special Zone (AOBSZ) leader Prasad told a local channel that the government had put those innocent people fighting for their rights over forest, land and water in jail in the name of they being Maoists. “That is why we have abducted the Malkangiri collector,” Prasad said.
The first round of discussion on Sunday had remained inconclusive on Sunday, though some headway had been made. According to Orissa home secretary UN Behera, after the first round of discussion, it was agreed upon that there would be no combing operation till the talks are over; Maoists, on their parts, should not create any untoward incident to vitiate the peace process; there would be no road blocks by them to cause inconvenience to people; and they would not cause no harm to Krishna and Majhi.
Apart from civil rights activist G Hargopal and academician R Someswar Rao, a third mediator – social activist Dandapani Mohanty – was roped in.
About 50 armed Maoists had abducted Krishna (30) and Majhi (23) on Wednesday evening when they had gone to inspect some development work after attending a mass contact programme at Badapada gram panchayat in Malkangiri, about 700 km southwest of Bhubaneswar.
The Maoists have asked for complete halt to the anti-Maoist operations and release of people booked for Maoist activities.
The discussion on Monday focuses on the issues on which there was disagreement in the first round of discussion. Sources said Mohanty, who joined the process in the afternoon on Sunday, came up with a 14-point demand. The Maoists conveyed through the mediators that the Orissa government should release about 700 persons, most who have been jailed on the charge of being Maoists.
Besides, the Maoists also want their leaders, including Ganti Prasadam, Sriramulu Srinivas, Padma and Asutosh. While, souces said, the government has been weighing the option of releasing the first three, it may not consider Asutosh’s case.
Asutosh, the eastern military commander of the CPI (Maoist), was arrested in 2009 in Rourkela and is now in a Jharkhand jail.
Sources said it had been clear that Mohanty and a jailed Maoist leader Ganti Prasadam would play a key role in the release of Krishna and Majhi.
Prasadam, who was in Ongole jail in Andhra Pradesh, was brought to a court in Koraput in Orissa on Sunday and remanded to a 14-day judicial custody. His bail plea will be moved on Monday.
The Koraput police had arrested Prasadam, a revolutionary poet and convenor of Martyrs’ Friends and Relatives Committee, in November last year. The Andhra Pradesh police had taken him to Ongole in connection with a case of attempt on the life of the then Prakasham district SP MC Laddha in 2009.
The Maoists want the release of Prasadam so that he can join the negotiation process. The Maoists also want the release of several other leaders.
On Saturday, bail applications of three top Maoist leaders and their nine associates were moved in Malkangiri and Koraput courts. All except one – Srinivasulu Ramulu – were rejected.
The bail applications of five leaders, including those of Prasadam, Ramulu and Padma, were again moved on Monday.