There has been no breakthrough on securing the release of seven election officials in Bihar, two days after they were abducted by Maoists during the ninth round of panchayat polls, their worried family members said on Tuesday.
"Police have been trying to make a deal with Maoists for the safe release of the abducted officials," a police official said in Jamui, the district where the abduction took place and where the rebels are active.
A relative of Nageshwar Kumar Mehta, one of the kidnapped officials, said: "We are worried for his safety and praying to god."
The families of Manoj Kumar and Shyamdeo Verma, two other abducted officials, are a frightened lot and are asking why the police are clueless.
"We are shocked that police have no information," a relative of Manoj said.
Jamui Superintendent of Police Ram Narayan Singh said police have been doing everything to rescue the officials. "Efforts are on to rescue them," Singh said.
The poll officials were abducted by Maoists after the rebels triggered a landmine blast in which one official was killed and two injured in Jamui on Sunday. Initially, police said they were missing after the blast, but later admitted they were abducted by Maoists.
Police officials said the Maoists are demanding the release of two of their men in exchange for the safe release of the officials.
Jamui District Magistrate Manish Kumar said the mobile phones of the seven officials were switched off. "Maoists may have abducted them," he said.
The rebels have issued a poll boycott call and threatened to disrupt the 10-phased panchayat elections.